Liberia: Increase Advocacy On Gender Quota

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.