Home Politics Women In Politics …As Parties Poise To Sign 30% Gender Quota

Women In Politics …As Parties Poise To Sign 30% Gender Quota

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H. Richard Fallah

BUCHANAN: Ahead of the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections, several political parties have agreed to sign a new agreement in support of the 30% gender quota aimed at increasing women’s political representation in the 2023 elections.

The parties, under the auspices of the Inter-Parties Consultative Committee (IPCC), and in collaboration with the National Elections Commission (NEC), reached the agreement in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, over the weekend following a two-day gathering to draft and validate a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for implementation of the minimum 30% gender quota for candidate listing for the 2023 elections.
According to a release dated, May 6, 2023, from the National Elections Commission (NEC), the meetings ran from 5-6 May 2023 and were conducted by the NEC, with support from the UN women Liberia.

NEC Chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, Co-Chairperson, Cllr. Teplah Reeves, and the entire Board of Commissioners led the two-day discussions in the port city.

In her opening remarks on Friday, the NEC Chairperson called on party officials in attendance to take seriously the full and increased participation of women in the upcoming elections and beyond.

Madam Browne-Lansanah said, for too long the issue of full participation of women in the country’s body politics remains in the rear.

She called on the parties to place premier on the issue, beginning with the pending 2023 elections.

Amongst the seven counts deliberated and concluded on in Buchanan were that “All registered parties are to produce and adopt a gender policy, reflective of the relevant legal instruments supporting gender balance and increase women participation in representative politics towards the 2023 elections; The parties also agreed “to ensure not less than 30 percent of either gender on the list of candidates submitted to the NEC during the candidate nomination period of the 2023 elections.”

They further agreed to “create the enabling environment for active and increased political participation of female aspirants in political activities for the 2023 elections”.

Such includes political parties taking special measures for resource mobilization for women contestants.

The two-day gathering, under the theme “increasing women political participation in elections through the full implementation of section 4.5 (a&b) of the New Elections Law of 1986” further admonishes “Parties to collaborate with Partners to organize regular trainings for women on campaign strategies and leadership skills.”

It also stressed the need for “building strong gender solidarity in the rank and file of men and women in political parties” among others.

It was agreed that the signing of the MoU takes place in this 2nd week of May in Monrovia among the chairpersons, secretary generals, or a designated official of registered political parties and the NEC.

The Women Legislative Caucus, Women NGO Secretariat, and the Coalition of Political Parties Women in Liberia attended the gathering.

In separate remarks, they pledged their support to the process of increasing women’s participation in the pending elections.

According to UN-Women; Women’s representation in public offices remains low and so does their participation in elections as candidates.
There are nine female and 64 males in the House of Representatives, two females and 27 males in the House of Senate.

There are five female and 14 male ministers in the cabinet. This under representation, according to women activists, cuts across local government.

There is no obligatory gender provision yet in the elections law or temporary special measure in the constitution.
The provision in the electoral law on Section 4.5.1c states that, “A list of candidates submitted to the Commission for an election should endeavor to have no less than 30% of the candidates on the list from each gender.”
An obligatory and enforceable provision without the clause ‘should endeavor’ rather ‘shall have’ is before the Senate after passage in the House of Representatives as part of the electoral law reform bill.
The electoral system of First Past The Post (FPTP) (an electoral system in which votes are translated into seats) makes it even more difficult for the few women who get on party ballots to stand a chance of winning and there has been heightened incidences of violence against women in elections which further shrinks the space for women’s political participation.
It is in this context that the work of the women political participation and leadership pillar in Liberia is focused, the meeting participants said.

Based on the achievements of women in politics and lessons learned to date, the Global Flagship Program Initiative (FPI) Theory of Change (ToC) envisions a four-pronged strategy under Goal 1 of the Entity’s Strategic Plan 2020-2024 “Women lead and participate in all areas of decision-making:
(1) support development and implementation of robust legal frameworks and administrative arrangements that promote gender balance and facilitate women’s participation; (2) expand the pool of qualified and capable women to run for election; (3) transform gender norms so that women are accepted as legitimate and effective leaders;
And (4) support women leaders in gender-sensitive political institutions to attract, promote and retain women leaders, and highlight the constructive contribution they make to decision-making.
Under this four-pronged approach, prong one supported the electoral bill reform agenda and its passage. A strong lobby and advocacy partnership with the women’s legislative caucus of Liberia (WLCL); Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP); civil society organizations (CSOs) and the National Elections Commission (NEC) and Communications company- Vivacious Consultants resulted in the passage of the Electoral Reform Bill inclusive of the obligatory 30% gender quota by the House of Representatives in February 2022.

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