Monrovia – Liberian women have successfully concluded a peace summit for 2023 organized by the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, in collaboration with the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development, partnering with MADRE and the African Women Development Fund (AWDF).
The two-day peace forum aimed to bring together a diverse group of Liberian women to deliberate, reflect, and strategize approaches for ensuring a peaceful election in 2023.
The Liberian Women’s Peace Summit (LWPS) offered a structured platform where women from various backgrounds and political affiliations could engage in discussions on critical issues surrounding peaceful elections in 2023 and draft a public position statement.
Liberian women will address key concerns impacting peaceful elections and women’s participation, culminating in the signing of the Liberian Women’s Peace Manifesto on August 17, 2023.
“Over the past two days, we have engaged in discussions about challenges not only faced by women political candidates but also challenges to peace itself. Peace remains a collective concern for all of us in Liberia,” remarked Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee.
Some participants expressed concern about the tendency of members of political parties to resort to personal attacks, while others highlighted worries about the potential impact of politics on their children, emphasizing its demanding nature.
Gbowee emphasized that the responsibility for ensuring transparency in the peace process should not rest solely on women candidates or community women. Political parties and the National Elections Commission share the responsibility to ensure a transparent and fair process.
“We emphasize the need for transparency in the process, as a lack of transparency can lead to negative speculation, especially in the midst of these closely contested elections,” Gbowee stated.
Following the summit, a manifesto will be developed, outlining the aspirations of Liberian women. The message will be translated into local languages and disseminated through 30 different media outlets, including community radio stations across the 15 counties.
Gbowee stressed the importance of political parties incorporating peace messages into their campaigns. She announced the distribution of flyers and t-shirts carrying peace messages to female candidates, urging them to promote peace during their campaign activities.
In addition to engaging with political candidates, Gbowee underscored the significance of religious institutions in promoting peace. She suggested that churches and mosques allocate a few minutes during their services to read peace messages developed for their congregations.
“No Liberian can afford to turn a blind eye. While some individuals, like myself, might have the means to leave in case of turmoil, we cannot take our entire families with us. Hence, it’s vital to prevent any disturbance,” Gbowee emphasized.
She continued, “The consequences of war are not something any sane person or country desires. As journalists, you are well aware of this reality. Liberia’s hard-earned peace must be upheld, and this sentiment is shared by many.”
Gbowee believed that every Liberian has a role to play as a peace messenger, whether in the media, as a peace activist, or as a politician. She appealed especially to the younger generation, encouraging them to safeguard the peace that has been maintained for over two decades.
“As we look around the neighboring subregion, we witness turmoil in various countries. Liberia must not become entangled in such circumstances. I implore the younger generation, who did not experience the horrors of civil war, to understand the significance of peace,” Gbowee urged.
She cautioned young voters not to allow themselves to be manipulated by any political group, stressing that peace is intricately tied to the future of both young people and the nation as a whole.
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