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– The views of businesswomen

By: Jerromie S. Walters

In accordance with Article 58 of the Constitution of Liberia, which mandates that the President of Liberia, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year, is to present the legislative program of the administration for the ensuing session and report on the state of the republic, covering the economic condition of the nation, including expenditure and income, President George Manneh Weah will on today, January 30, 2023, deliver his fifth state of the nation address, marking the end of his first term in office.

In fulfillment of said National duty, business women from different parts of Montserrado County who spoke with this paper, are keenly expecting the President, while speaking of his achievements, to include interventions made in the infrastructural and educational sectors, as they believe his work was greatly felt in the various sectors.

Though they acknowledged the president’s role in the infrastructural sector, the women are recommending that more attention be placed on addressing the status of the country’s economy, which they think isn’t flourishing.

Among scores of other business women we interacted with, Pricilla Swen, a local businesswoman on Mechlin Street in central Monrovia who sells provisions, said she’s expecting the President to speak about those significant impacts he made last year, specifically referencing major road projects that have been completed and the few that are still ongoing across the country.

Ma Pricilla is convinced that the President’s fifth annual message will highlight his meaningful gains in the educational sector, specifically his gesture towards the payment of WASC fees for 9th and 12th grade students across the country.

“He did well last year, like the road from here to my home in Maryland; it’s alright, and for over two years now, I have not been paying WAEC fees for my children, so I think he’s trying, so he might talk about those things,” she said.

She continued, “This year I want him to do more than last year; I think when money is in town, people will buy, so let them try; let money be in town so people can buy from us, then we will be able to pay our children’s school fees,” she explained.

Jessica Sannah, a local businesswoman on Ashmun Street in central Monrovia, is sure about the president’s speaking mainly about the progress he has made with his developmental agenda, which she believes is more glaring than its impacts on the Liberian economy.

As a street seller, she acknowledged the president’s role in allowing them to do their business freely, something that they had long challenged.

“I’m expecting the President to talk about the work he has been doing, like the roads and markets, especially Duala Market; he may not include everything, but for us that are selling on the street, he gives us freedom; the City Police can’t take our goods anymore,” she said.

She confirmed her support for the George W. Bush administration but further called on the president to address the status of the economy.

Meima Kiazolu, a local businesswoman on Broad Street, is anticipating that the president will speak on major gains made toward his commitment to ending violence against women and girls.

“Really, for me, I think the president tried so he could talk about the things he did, and on women’s issues, the way people used to violate us, it can’t happen again because we can see how they have dealt with people for violence against women,” she added.

Though she admitted that efforts have been made by the government, she believes a lot more needs to be done in addressing the economy.

“He’s trying, but there are still challenges, like for us, the business people, because people are not buying like before, so I think the President should try to look at dropping things’ prices,” she recommended.

Recently, the fifth edition of Naymote Partners for Democratic Development’s project titled “The President Meter/WeahMeter” graded President Weah at 95% implementation on all promises made in line with addressing the gender inequality gap during and after the 2017 general elections.

The President’s Meter is an annual democratic monitoring tool used by Naymote Partners for Democratic Development to provide an independent assessment of the implementation of the campaign and post-election promises made by President George Manneh Weah and the Coalition for Democratic Change. 

According to the report, Pres. Weah made eight (8) promises under the gender component of his administration; of which, he has successfully laid a huge benchmark during the last 5-years of office.

Moreover, the government, in its efforts, established a gender and social inclusion unit in all government ministries and agencies to propose an anti-female genital mutilation bill.

It also unveiled a $USD 6 million roadmap to curb sexual gender-based violence, including declaring rape a national emergency, appointing a special prosecutor for rape, setting up a national sex offender registry, establishing a national security taskforce on SGBV, and allocating USD $2 million to beef up the fight against sexual gender-based violence (SGBV).

Considering the government’s efforts in the area of Female participation in 2022, it can be referenced that the President appointed Justice Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Yuoh making it the third female Chief Justice of Liberia, Madam Ruth Cooker-Collins, as Public Works Minister and Madam Diana Nebo, as the Managing Director of the National Port Authority of Liberia.

Prior to the appointment of the various women, the Legislature passed a 30% gender quota bill, and the National Elections Commission, along with registered political parties, signed the Violence Against Women in Elections and Politics Protocol in 2022.

Meanwhile, women across Liberia believe that these and many others are expected to be included in the president’s fifth state of the nation address today, as he has also been cautioned by them to take note of the economy as he proceeds with his last year.


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