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GeneralLiberia news

WSR holds 3 days dialogue

The forum is expected to broaden the minds of Liberian female law enforcement officers and female politicians on political mediation and peace.

By Lewis S. Teh 

Monrovia, Liberia, April 3, 2024 -The Women Situation Room (WSR) of Liberia, with funding support from the United Nations Peace Building Fund and UNDP, has begun a day post-election forum on Women’s Political Mediation and Peace Dialogue for female law enforcement officers, female politicians and other prominent women in the country.

Giving an overview of the dialogue in the Cecil Dennis Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here Tuesday, April 2, 2024, former foreign minister and now board chair of the Angie Brooks International Center, Olubanke King-Akerele said, the exercise is intended for women in politics and those in law enforcement alongside prominent women to reflect on challenges they encountered during the 2023 election, and share their experiences.

“As you know, the board of coaches in terms of the women’s situation room, our scholarship portion, before, during, and after, you have interacted with us before and during what we do is what we are involved in is what you call the after, where we ask ourselves what happened at various levels we want to hear so we can see how we can improve the next round, even though the actual general elections are next six years down the road, but we have a series of intermediates” Madam Akerele said.

According to her, the opening session of the dialogue primarily focuses on media and security, followed by youth, the disaffected, the soulless, first-time voters, and young people, how they were involved, and how political parties used them. 

She added that the WSR primarily focuses on lessons learned and that the third day will involve program supporters, officers of the National Elections Commission (NEC), and international participants, which she says will be very exciting. 

“What were the problems with the financing and those who didn’t win? What happened? Who will have the Senate will be there? Others who tried and got problems will also talk, so this is the backdrop to what this is about when we say before, during, and after. This is the after you. Okay, that’s the backdrop of what this is all about.”

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The WSR is a flagship initiative of the Angie Brooks International Center. It was started in Liberia as a direct intervention by women, in collaboration with youth, to mitigate the threat and incidents of violence the country faced during the past elections.

The dialogue is being held under the theme: “Promoting Peaceful Electoral Environment and Community Security in Liberia – the Women Situation Room.”

Sharing her thoughts on challenges the Joint Security faced during the 2023 election, Cllr. Asatu Bah Kenneh, National Coordinator of Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association or LIFLEA, cited lack of vehicles and poor coordination as major challenges faced during the polls.

Cllr. Kenneh, also a former deputy commissioner general of the Liberia Immigration Service, stressed lack of communication, rapid response, selectiveness in assigning female officers, and vulnerable polling places where they never saw the presence of security officers, among other things.

She observed that “There was also overlapping of functions, and all these things caused challenges during the just-ended elections.”

The publisher of the Women Voices Newspaper, Helena Nah Sammy, said the media is crippled with too many false and misinformation especially, the social media, something she believes poses huge challenges to the media landscape.

She told the audience that her newspaper focuses specifically on women’s issues, thereby elevating their voices in all areas.

“The other thing that we fought for was to protect female characters from their male counterparts because, in most cases, whenever a woman decides to take political office, her male counterparts will want to open her bedroom to the public.”

She also said some of the challenges during the election were battling politicians with fake news and misinformation on one hand. At the same time, women candidates or supporters did not participate in the interviews.

Also speaking about challenges the media encountered during the 2023 presidential and legislative elections, Marka Davis, talk show host at Truth FM, stressed the lack of sufficient safety for media practitioners.

He names lack of finance, protection of journalists, misinformation, and disinformation from social media users.

“Training and capacity building also pose serious challenges to the media; we believe that when media practitioners are well trained, they will understand their role,” Mr. Davis explained. He frowned at politicians who brand some media practitioners as partisans and regime journalists.

Meanwhile, former Montserrado County electoral district#10 representative candidate Karishma Pelham said it was important for organizers to conduct more such dialogue, saying, “We need more of this not only during election time; there are more women who want to share their agenda and views.”

Accordingly, Pelham said women should be given the platform to share their views, adding, “We understand that stations need to make money, but there’s a need for women to be given the space and not be threatened.”

The opening of the dialogue brought together scores of female law enforcement officers from the Liberia National Police, Liberia Immigration Service, Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency, female contestants, and media practitioners. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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