Source: Daily observer
In a bid to revive the long-delayed proposed legislation seeking to increase women’s participation in politics, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has challenged female legislators to re-introduce the ‘30% of Women Participation in Government’s Bill’ and guarantee its passage into law.

The Liberia leader, in a daring tone, told the Legislative Women Caucus (LWC), comprising 12 lawmakers from both the Houses of Representative and Senate, to lobby “one-to-one” with their male counterparts for the bill to be enacted into law in order to increase women’s participation in the government.

President Sirleaf support for the women’s bill appears to be a somersault from her earlier to withhold her support for the proposed legislation because according to her, the said bill did not address fully the inclusion of women in politics at all levels in the society.

It can be recalled that during the legislative discussion of the proposed women’s bill in 2009, President Sirleaf and other women groups were divided on the issue especially during the Montserrado County Senatorial By-election in 2009.

Women groups at the time opined that since the seat was vacated by the death of a female, Hannah Brant, another woman should replace the fallen Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) senator. However, President Sirleaf, who supported Clemenceau Urey for the vacant post, at the time vehemently debunked their position.

This move created divisions among those women groups including other prominent females in the country.

Many women’s groups at the time, including individual female supporters from the ruling Unity Party opposed the President’s choice and overwhelmingly voted for CDC candidate Geraldine Doe-Shireff as senator.

Interestingly, the President now appears to have somersaulted on her previous decision and called on the Legislators to speedily enact the bill she once opposed.

The President indicated that Liberia, being a member of the comity of nations which upholds international norms, must follow other countries to pass the ‘30% of Women Participation in Government’s Bill’ like South Africa, Uganda, Mozambique and Senegal, amongst others.

President Sirleaf made the remarks yesterday at a one-day policy seminar on ‘Gender Responsive Budgeting’ at the William R. Tolbert Joint Assembly Hall in the Capitol Building.

The seminar, which was organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), followed the installation program of the Legislative Women Caucus of the 53rd Legislature.

The President also urged the female legislators to carefully look at the national budget with a ‘Gender Lens,’ to ensure that all sectors of the economy should get their fair share in the budget.

Installation officer, Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, who is also former Chief Justice and Maryland Senator, told the female legislators to create a support system and support every woman in leadership.

Senator Scott told the lawmakers not to allow their male counterparts to clamp down on them. She urged them to form alliances, collaborate with women everywhere, including the Executive and Judiciary to achieve their goals.

Those inducted were Representatives Josephine George Francis of District # 1, Montserrado County as Chairman of the LWC; Representatives Corpu Barclay of District # 7 Bong County; and Munah Pelham (CDC) of District # 9 Montserrado County, Co- Chairs on International Affairs, National Affairs respectively.

Others were Senators Geraldine Doe-Sheriff of Montserrado County as Secretary, while Mary Karwor of District #2 Grand Bassa County and Representative Malai Gbogar (UP) of District # 2 Gbarpolu County were installed as Treasurer and Chaplain, respectively.

Members of LWC are Senator Clarice Jah, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, Representative Gertrude Lamin, Representative Mariamu Fofana, Representative Haja Fata Siryon and Senator Joyce Musu Freeman.

In her inaugural speech, Chairlady Francis urged Liberian women to engage in agriculture, describing it as the bedrock of the nation. She appealed to her female and male colleagues as well as ministers to engage in farming activities.

She promised to collaborate with others across party lines and encourage increased women participation in politics.

For his part, Speaker J. Alex Tyler promised to give his moral support to LWC and consider himself as an ‘affiliate member.’

One of the major goals of the LWC is to increase women’s political participation in the national recovery and renewal processes of the country.

Reports have it that since the election of President Sirleaf in 2005, Liberian women have made huge gains in reclaiming the pride of womanhood from the marginalization of conservative power structures in past governments after the 14-year civil war.

NDI is a partner of the Legislature that is providing support in strengthening the capacity of both the male and female lawmakers to enhance and increase their political participation at national, regional and local levels.

NDI is also providing technical capacity training to Central Administration Staff, including the staffers of the Chief Clerk and Secretariat of the Senate, Legislative Budget Office, Legislative Information Services, among others.


Leadership of the Legislative Women Caucus taking oath of office
Leadership of the Legislative Women Caucus taking oath of office
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