Gender Minister tells stakeholders at mock parliament
The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection with support from UN Women ends a two-day mock Parliament session each in Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties.
According to a release, the Mock Parliament is aimed at promoting and strengthening collaboration mechanisms and advocating for increased women’s political participation through the inclusion of the enforceable 30 percent gender quota provision in Liberia’s electoral law.
Speaking during the opening sessions held in both counties from August 12-13; 16-17, 2021 respectively – Gender, Children, and Social Protection Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr told participants that Liberian women continue to be underrepresented in politics, as women’s participation in leadership and decision-making has remained an all-time low, globally.
She said Liberia has committed to taking action to increase women’s political participation and representation by signing and ratifying a number of international and regional human rights instruments, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR); the Protocol to the Africa Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (ACHPR-PW); the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG), and the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (PDGG), among others.
“Currently, the legal framework governing elections, including laws on elections and on political parties, the independent electoral commission statutes, and laws are still not gender-sensitive. Still, efforts to amend the elections law have not yet been successful despite five (5) attempts since 2005,” said the Minister.
She noted that the latest attempt is through the Electoral Law Reform that is ongoing, and that in 2014, the Legislature amended Section 4.5 of the New Elections Law (NEL) that stipulates:
“A political party or coalition in its submission to the Commission, of its list of candidates for an election should endeavor to ensure that the governing body and its list of candidates have no less than 30% of its members from each gender.”
Minister Saydee-Tarr explained the phrase “should endeavor to ensure” has proven ambiguous and open to numerous interpretations as to whether Section 4.5 requires political parties to present a candidate list that has no less than 30 percent women or requires them to earnestly attempt to do so.
She told stakeholders to increase advocacy on the gender quota and other law reforms for women.
“I am optimistic that at the end of the ongoing nationwide Mock Parliament sessions, you will have some level of greater opportunity to seize the momentum being generated to accelerate constructive engagements with the Legislative Branch of government including strategic gender and judiciary committees in both Houses”, the Minister noted.
In a special remark, Madam Marie Goreth Nizigama, County Representative, UN Women calls for inclusive citizens’ engagements in decision-making processes that will bridge the gap of gender inequality. The UN Women Rep stressed the urgent need for more supportive gender-responsive, legal provisions that domesticate the signed International Treaties.
According to Madam Nizigama, increasing women in leadership will help build a safer, inclusive, and more stable society.
Margibi County Electoral District #3 Representative Ellen Attoh Wreh, lauded the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and UN Women for organizing what she termed an enlightening initiative. Rep.Wreh urged participants to utilize knowledge gained from the mock sessions for the advancement of a gender-balanced society.
Stakeholders in attendance include County leaders, Academics, Parliamentarians, Political Party leaders, Representatives of Civil Society Organizations, Members of the Judiciary, the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), and the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) amongst others, drawn from Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Bassa, Montserrado and Margibi Counties, respectively.
The Mock Parliament will continue in Bomi, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh Counties beginning Thursday, August 19 to Tuesday, August 31, 2021.