Liberia: UN Women Opens ‘Gender Responsive Budgeting Training’ for Lawmakers

Representative Rosana Schaack- Rivercess District One

Monrovia – With nine women in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate, women issues are barely discussed and prioritized, according to Representative Julie Wiah, Lofa County and chair on Gender Equity, Child Development and Social Service in the House.

Reported by Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]

Rep. Wiah said it is time that the country empowered women so as to increase their political participation and service to country.

She spoke at the UN Women Gender Mainstreaming and Gender Responsive Budgeting Training for Legislators and members of the Executive recently.

The Lofa County District one lawmaker further stated that the training is important for legislators because it will help them on the gender impartiality in Liberia.

“We must stand and face the challenges we have; the reason why the women number is low is lack of empowerment.

“Males are always dominant in the Legislature and two branches of government. The best we can do is to continue to tell the government to appoint more women.”

She recommended that if women are appointed and empowered economically, they will be strong and free to contest.

Julie Wiah- Lofa County District One Representative

The UN Women statistics shows that the Legislature Inter-Parliamentary Union, for 2018, Liberia ranks 162 out of 193 countries in terms of women’s representation in the Legislature. Women account for 11.65 percent of elected members, which is a far cry from the 30 percent representation envisaged in the Beijing Platform for Action, back in 1995.

In the current Cabinet, only 10.5 percent are women (2 women ministers)- total female appointments at senior-most leadership level stands at 18.4 percent and overall at 25.21 percent. In local government, from the village to the county level, women account for under 6 percent in terms of leadership positions.

Although 40 percent of the Supreme Court members are women, there are only 5 persons in the court and women members are just 2! In the lower courts, women are just 12.5 percent of judges.

Representative Rosana Schaack of Rivercess County District one recalled that the training is the second phase targeting legislators.

According to her, previous national budgets have not been gender-sensitive and the training will prepare them to craft the budget.

“Legislators must look at those protocols and agreements that support gender mainstreaming,” she urged.

River Gee County District Three Representative Francis Dopoh said there is no need for more women in the legislature but rather men must be conscious of women issues.

“The outcome is how we can have a broader understanding to help the very few women in the House of Representatives so that we can capture those issues affecting women, health and farm to market road.”

For Rep. Maima Briggs-Mensah, District one, Bong County, the few women, who are in positions of influence, must work hard so that they can help more women get involved.

In the by-elections that took place earlier this year, there was only 1 woman out of 12 candidates contesting overall and she was also the lone female candidate in Montserrado out of 7 candidates.

Of the 19 ministers appointed currently by President George Weah, only 2 are women the UN Women statistics said.

UN Women signed a Letter of Agreement with the Women’s Legislative Caucus of Liberia in pursuance of its commitment to strengthen the capacity of elected representatives to effectively perform their functions to empower women in political participation and leadership as emphasized by UNSCR 66/130.

A key aspect of the agreement is the on-going support to increase the capacity of female legislators and male champions to make gender-sensitive policies that would enhance the opportunity for the promotion of gender equality in decision making and practice.

Roberta Clarke former regional director Asia Pacific region UN Women is serving as the facilitator for the five-day training.