Monrovia – Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has pledged her unflinching support to the women of Liberia in ensuring they grab at least 50 percent of seats at the Liberian Legislature comes 2023.
VP Howard-Taylor said the real center for decision making that could change the destiny of Liberia is the Legislature, and in order to ensure issues affecting women such as limited education, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) are addressed, women, which make up about 50 percent of Liberia’s population should rally to take up half of the seats in both Houses of Representatives and Senate.
The Vice President made the aspiring statement when she serve as installation officer of the Women’s NGOs Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) Board members’ induction ceremony on Friday.
She said owing to the huge population of women and their important role in post war Liberia, the allocation of 30 percent legislative seat as has been trumpeted in the past was not enough, noting the debate should now be shifted to 50 percent or more, and 2023 was the right time to begin the campaign.
“If we do not look forward to get women in position of trust, we will continue to be where we are. And the national Legislature is where the power is, that’s where the decision are taken. That’s why we should work and get more people there,” said VP Howard-Taylor, who served as Senator of Bong County for 12 years before her election as the nation’s first female Vice President.
She continues: “There will be something strange happening in 2023. There will be presidential election, there will be election in the House of Representatives and there will be election in the Liberian Senate for the first time in many years. So, we have a strong opportunity to ensure that women are elected. It is only then that the thing you wish for will come to pass.”
VP Taylor comments come on the heel of a special senatorial election which featured 20 female candidates, and with only one being declared winner by the National Elections Commission (NEC) so far. And that is incumbent Senator Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence of Grand Bassa County, currently the only female Senator at the 54th Legislature of Liberia.
Although Madam Botoe Kanneh of Gbarpolu County has been projected the winner the race in the county, a complaint filed by her closest rival has halted every proceeding. While another woman candidate, Edith Gonglo-weh of Nimba, alleging fraud, is strongly protesting and demanding recount and rerun of the votes in some areas.
There is high hope among the women that by the end of the legal proceedings currently ongoing at the NEC, the number of female at the Senate will increase.
The event was also graced by ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara who delivered the keynote address.
Madam Sirleaf, in a special statement thanked the women of Liberia for always supporting her and said it was now time to address the challenge of electing more females at the Legislature.
Madam Kamara in her keynote address, called on WONGOSOL to unite and champion the cause of women. “Forget about unhealthy competition let’s taken ownership of the issues,” she urged the new leadership.
For her part, the newly inducted Board Chairperson, former Gender Minister, Madam Julia Duncan Cassell, among other things, pledged to work with Vice president Howard-Taylor and the Female Legislative Caucus to promote women political participation and to include WONGOSOL in the national budget in order to address some of its programs supporting women and girls.
Meanwhile, other officials inducted include Facia B. Harris, First Vice President, Marayah Fyneah, Second Vice President, , Miatta D. Thomas, General Secretary, Laura Bee-Kiekpo, Treasure, Victoria T. Koiquah, member and Salome Tulay also member.