- WSR: Eminent women warned as they requested a multi-stakeholder strategy
By Leila B. Gbati
The Women Situation Room (WSR Eminent)’s Women have stated that electoral violence against women is a death threat and not a scare tactic, as evidenced by the bloody altercation with machetes, stones, and other weapons against the representative candidate Cornelia Kruah-Tokpa, the gassing of Telia Urey’s home and setting it on fire to burn her alive, and the use of firearms to hunt Senator Botoe Kanneh like a deer
The women claim that the purpose of carrying out these violent crimes against those women was to murder them.
At the WSR Eminent Women press conference on the conclusion of the project titled “Sustainable and inclusive peace in Liberia through promoting women’s leadership and participation in civic and political life and their strengthened role in conflict resolution,” which was held at the Boulevard Palace Hotel in Sinkor, the women made these remarks.
Cllr. Yvette Chesson Wureh, the establishment coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC), said in a statement that it is becoming harder for women to peacefully participate in elections in a variety of occupations. She emphasized that women take part in elections as candidates, voters, security personnel, election commission employees, supporters of political parties, polling center agents, media personnel, and floating voters.
Cllr. Wureh noted that these varying degrees of political engagement are accompanied by varying degrees of violence directed at women during elections, including online harassment, false news, and misinformation, as well as gender- and sexual-based violence, verbal abuse, physical violence, emotional and psychological abuse. This is all done in an effort to reverse the political climate that discourages women from participating in elections.
She stated that by exploiting culture and conventional norms, the Eminent Women of the WSR had noticed a fresh and unsettling tendency of violence directed towards women’s political engagement. This trend first surfaced during the December 2020 midterm senatorial election.
She emphasized that traditional practices had no place in Liberia’s democratic decision-making process.
It is quite regrettable that this tradition is indiscriminately becoming violent toward women’s participation in politics and elections. We are deeply concerned by the fact that not only will this injure and discourage women from participating, but that it may even be fatal in some cases. “All efforts to create a Liberian democracy that is truly inclusive are defeated by the exploitation of traditions in politics to harass and threaten women,” she claimed.
In a statement, Cllr. Wureh added that the early warning signs of electoral violence have indicated that momentum is being built for violence ahead of the 2023 elections to the point where they may no longer be early warning but rather actual signs of violence that are brewing and waiting for the appropriate time to be explored.
The ABIC Establishment Coordinator insisted that after studying these various circumstances, they found that the lack of mechanisms for resolving disputes and the lack of clarity in numerous investigations at the political party, local, and national levels were to blame for these unfortunate developments, which had the unintended consequence of causing people to lose faith in the ability of the legal systems to administer justice.
The problems with election violence plaguing the nation, according to Cllr. Wureh, demand an immediate multi-stakeholder solution. That cannot be completed by a single creature in a single day.
As the nation prepares for the 2023 elections, she stated that the ABIC and Eminent Women of the WSR mechanism, as the leading civil society organization, are urging all partners, both domestic and foreign, to continue collaborative efforts to cut out these cancerous signs of violence. She added that “Collaborative efforts like the Women’s Mass Action for Peace in July 2922, which was chaired by our late Eminent Woman, Rosline Toweh and depitized by the ABIC.”
She claimed that 20 pilot communities in Bong and Montserrado Counties, including West Point, Clara Town, New Kru Town, PHP, District #8, King Gray, Todee, Gardnersville, Bentol City, Crozierville, Salala, Toyota, Gbartala, Suakoko, Cuttington, Gbarnga City, Wainsue, Belefanai, Palala, and Folobai, have participated in an 18-month peace building project led by
With funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund through the WSR mechanism of ABIC, the project’s mandate accordingly was to implement strategic interventions to increase women’s capacity and agency within political, civic, and mediation spaces following the December 2020 mid-term senatorial elections and the constitutional referendum, while also preparing for the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
Prioritizing the interests of peace in the 20 communities was the only objective ABIC had when starting the project. This approach ensured that the project received the necessary local support from leaders all the way down to the average resident because the issues it raised were, and remain, urgent.
The ABIC has organized 10 women-led mediation dialogues under the general themes of electoral violence, monetization of elections, abuse and politicization of traditional norms and values, polarization of the media, understanding the democratic ideology of elections, and abuse of drugs as a national emergency issue, among other things, with strong evidence of impacts achieved. A peace march with more than 2000 women to demand and develop their own visible seats at the decision-making table, as well as the lead from where you sit ‘series of training events by the WSR Eminent Women, were among the other activities.
In order to maintain peace before, during, and after the presidential and legislative elections in 2023, ongoing interventions through multi-stakeholder concrete initiatives are required. These comprehensive interactions have accumulated considerable early warning indications of violence.