– President Weah reaffirms his position on Women’s political participation
By: Jerromie S. Walters
As we rapidly approach the general and presidential elections that are scheduled for October of this year, President George Manneh Weah has assured his government’s support and commitment to increased women’s political participation in the pending elections.
While delivering his sixth state of the nation address late Monday, January 30, 2023, President Weah expressed his commitment to seeing the involvement of more women in the October 2023 elections, in concurrence with UN Women’s nationwide awareness and dialogue campaign that’s targeted at promoting women’s political participation.
“Today, I reaffirm my commitment to seeing more women on the ballot for elections in Liberia. “Being cognizant of the impending 2023 elections, funding has been secured from UN Women for a nationwide awareness and dialogue campaign aimed at promoting women’s political participation in this year’s elections,” he disclosed.
With a reminder to Liberians about their exemplary history of record-breaking female leadership, both in politics and in civil society organizations, the Liberian leader said just as Liberia was the first to produce an elected female president on the African continent and the first female vice president of Liberia, he believes a lot more powerful positions can be democratically secured by women with their effective involvement in national politics.
Moreover, President Weah appreciated the youths of Liberia that are within the Federation of Liberian Youths (FLY), on the election of its first female President since its founding forty-eight (48) years ago.
The Liberia Leader described Benica’s ascendency to FLY’s presidency as an “important glass ceiling” that has been broken by the young female.
“Today, I am pleased to inform you of another important glass ceiling that has been broken by a female who has ascended to the leadership of an organization that has always been led by males. For the first time since its founding forty-eight (48) years ago, the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), Liberia’s largest youth grouping, has elected its first female president, in the person of Ms. Banica Stephanie Elliot. We congratulate Ms. Elliot and the members of FLY for this pioneering and progressive achievement.
At the same time, the President expressed his critical and proactive involvement in ensuring the rights and protection of all Liberians and upholding the dignity and safeguarding the human rights of the most vulnerable segment of Liberia’s population (women, girls, and children).
“Within this context, my government has made and continues to make significant efforts to address the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in a strategic and more coordinated manner,” he said.
He continued, “We continue to work with our international partners to address the issue of SGBV against our women and children, deploying available resources to provide appropriate support and enable ready access to justice systems, in order to achieve a meaningful reduction of SGBV during this year and the years to come.”
Through the implementation of the Anti-SGBV Roadmap, the President said his government has provided financial resources, not only for prevention and response but also for the well-being of survivors, through the renovation of safe homes and the provision of functional operational support services.
Additionally, President George Weah disclosed his willingness to end all forms of harmful traditional practices in Liberia holistically in order to protect women and girls.
“Even as we are cognizant of our responsibility to uphold our traditional tenets and cultural practices, we believe that we still have an obligation to ensure that harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation and early child marriage, are addressed holistically in order to protect our women and girls.” “In so doing, we are mindful that we must respectfully employ culturally appropriate approaches with our traditional leaders,” she mentioned.
He thanked the head of the traditional Chiefs and Elder Council of Liberia, Chief Zanzan Karwor, and all other traditional leaders for historically leading by example in a show of support for his administration’s gender agenda. We acknowledge their role in ensuring that we keep the beautiful parts of our culture, even as we work to do away with harmful traditional practices.
“Since my declaration to find a pathway to achieve this goal, we have seen their expressed commitment to work with me, as was exemplified by the ceremony held this month in Sonkai Town, Todee District, symbolizing the end of harmful traditional practices in Montserrado County. This marks the beginning of a new era, where our beautiful girls will be initiated and given deep knowledge of our culture without mutilation.
To buttress these efforts, the President said alternate livelihood programs are being setup for Zoes and traditional leaders, with financial and technical support from the European Union Spotlight Initiative and being implemented by the One-UN organization.
Under the program, three (3) Vocational and Heritage Centers have already been completed in Grand Cape Mount, Montserrado, and Nimba Counties, as they will serve as alternative means of livelihood for our cultural custodians, who are entrusted with enlightening girls on traditional culture, mores, and values.
On the other hand, he announced the Liberia Social Safety Nets Project, under the Ministry of Gender, which is now in full swing and continues to make a significant impact in targeted counties. “We say a special thanks to the World Bank, UK Foreign Commonwealth Development Office, and USAID for their generous support to this project”.
With support from the World Bank, the President said $44.6 million US dollars have been secured for the Liberia Women Empowerment Project, which is geared towards empowering women and addressing social norms, inequalities, and gender-based violence in over 750 communities, targeting more than 258 thousand beneficiaries.