The United Nations Women Country Representative to Liberia, Marie Goreth Nizigama has pointed out that while women represent half of the Liberian population, they are still grossly underrepresented in politics and decision making positions.
By E. Festus Frazer, Jr.
She made the call at a day long women experience sharing on innovative ways of addressing violence against women and girls and achieving gender equality.
The event, hosted by the Government of Liberia in collaboration, along with Liberia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and UN Women Liberia was Liberia’s side event of the sixty-fifth session of the commission on the status of women.
It was held at the conference room of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection at the Ministerial complex in Congo Town via Zoom conference on Thursday March 18 under the theme: The Liberian experience: Women sharing experiences on innovative ways of addressing violence against women and girls in achieving gender equality.
Madam Nizigama, speaking during the event said women’s representation has significant consequences on the country, and any form of exclusion has serious impacts on the abilities of the work force, and thereby affecting the economic performance of the country.
She called for Liberia to improve on its current position of 151 of 193 countries for female participation.
She emphasized that there is not a level playing field for women currently as witnessed by the increased incidences of violence against women in political life which threatened women from participating.
The UN Women Country Representative, however, thanked the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Gender Children and Social protection, the National Elections Commission and civil society organizations for the effort made so far towards progress in domestic violence, the land Rights and the local government acts, among others.
In her opening remarks, Gender Minister Williamina Piso Saydee-Tarr said despite existing barriers between men and women in participation in the economy, the Government of Liberia has made major achievements including the establishment of Gender and social inclusion units within various ministries, agencies and commission which is intended to boost gender mainstreaming in the national governance process.
Minister Tarr also named the revision of the National Election Law that mandates political parties to have at least 30% women, and the establishment of village loan clubs to aid women who are engaged in petty trade as stand-out achievements the Government of Liberia has made over the years; while it continues to demonstrate a Stern commitment to promote women political participation especially in decision making.
“There have been greater barriers between men and women in participation in the economy in different geographical locations but we made some important strides such as those mentioned above in making sure that women get on path with their male counterparts in decision making.” Minister Tarr said.
She maintained that the issue of women, girls and children remain a priority of the government of Liberia, and noted that the government has been working tirelessly with partners to support them.
Also speaking during the occasion, the executive director of the Crusaders for Peace called on the Liberian government to recruit more great traditional women in the local governance structure of the country.
According to Ambassador Julie Endee, traditional women in the past have been marginalized in various communities across the country, adding that traditional women have been the last to speak. But she said, with the help of the United Nations, UN Women and the Swedish Government, Liberia now can boost of women occupying Positions in national leadership.
“Traditional women have been left behind in the past. They have been marginalized in various places, ranging from national leadership, traditional leadership and decision making and many others,” she said.
Ambassador Julie Endee who served as a panelist during the event also thanked President George Weah for appointing more women to occupy positions at the national level. She revealed that traditional women representation is gradually getting on path under the George Manneh Weah’s administration in the various Counties except River Gee County that is yet to get on path.
Also speaking, Atty. Margaret Nigba said, over the years there have numerous challenges hindering the reporting of SGBVs but with aids from UN Women, Carter Center and the Government of Liberia, the process of reporting SGBVs cases is improving. According to the ‘Her Voice’ Executive Director, the issue of domestic violence against women is not improving because those cases are heard in open Court; something, she feels is hampering victims to pursuit Justice. She asserted that women access to justice is not complete when those women who report their cases do not get a logical conclusion.