By R. Joyclyn Wea
As discussion for more elected women leaders to bridge gender gap in the National Legislature of Liberia continues, Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia has recommended to partners and donors of Government to make as condition for loan to National Government the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill and Gender Equality Bill among other things.
Justice Gloria Musu-Scott made the recommendation when she served as panelist at a one-day forum organized by UN Women to identify barriers of women political participation in Liberia and how UN Women and partners can double up support to elected and appointed women leaders in the Country.
“I would recommend that maybe, when you are giving us loan to help the chief make the decision; it should be one of the conditions. The World Bank, African Development Bank should include the passage of these instruments as one of the conditions that will encourage the chief to act,” Cllr. Scott.
According to the former Justice, the posture of the President is very important to drive the change or the success of having the bill pass and not the normal route of law making as require or back by constitutional amendment.
“Political will is key. There has to be that push because if you one to follow the system as we have it, it will be very difficult to get more women in the legislature,” she added.
Cllr. Scott further links the low elected women in the National Legislature to the constitution of the country.
“When we lawyers are speaking, we say the constitution is okay but, I tell my colleagues no, it is not. You cannot balance centuries of imbalances with words because the effects of the imbalances over the years continue to keep women at a disadvantage.”
She indicated that in order for political parties and electorates to take women seriously, they have to assume a manly attribute because there is not a level plain field in the constitution of Liberia that promotes gender equality.
Also remarking at the forum, Senator Peter Coleman, expressed frustration in former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for lack of interest in having the bill pass saying “I felt this was a female president and that would have been one of her greatest legacies to finally have a Coal-tie system in Liberia.”
He noted that with the coal-tie System more women voices will be heard at the table of decision making in that way issues affecting women would be addressed.
“That was a glorious opportunity that we missed, now that we have a president who called himself feminist-in-chief we must take advantage of this and run with it,” Senator Coleman.
Meanwhile, the one-day forum organized by UN Women was to highlight experience and activities in support of women leadership and political participation in Liberia.
The previous Development Partner Forum was held in March 2018. The aim of that gathering was to look at lesson from the 2017 elections. During the meeting, key things were identified and placed on the lab of number of different stakeholders.
Partners were asked to double up their advocacy with National Government in term of women participation and that was against the backdrop of statistics taken from government on the number of women in House and cabinet.
UN Women following the conclusion of the meeting was also asked to step support for women generally including elected and appointed women leaders.
There are still challenges in term of women political participation and the legal framework and enabling environment and political will. Political party guidelines and rules is something that is also preventing women from taking part in political activities.
At the end of the 2018 gathering, there were recommendations to include: advocacy, building partnership, capacity building, data and evidence collection and dissemination if Liberia must meet her commitment of achieving gender equality and changing norms in the society.
The intent of the forum is to also be able to use the framework and arrange the conversation to identify entry points and opportunities to strengthen women political participation.