Liberia: Women Coalition Petitions Lawmakers to Reinstate Clause Promoting Women’s Representation in Draft Election Law, Threatens Sit-in-action Today

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Capitol Hill, Monrovia – Scores of Liberian women from diverse spectrum, on Monday expressed dismay over what they referred to as alteration in the proposed new elections law of Liberia affecting women’s representation.

In a statement presented to the Women Legislative Caucus at the Capitol Building, the women emphasized that there were extensive national consultations held by the National Elections Commission (NEC), Civil Society groups and observers throughout the last two years, stressing that all agreed that it is of great importance that Liberia strengthens the Elections Law to give women a chance to sit at the same table as men to discuss and pass legislation affecting all.

“Following these consultations, the NEC proposed, amongst other things, strengthening Section 4.5 of the new Election Law by making it compulsory for political parties to include as minimum of 30% of either gender in their national executive and their candidate lists for election, and giving the NEC the power to reject any candidate list that does not comply,” Madam MacDella Cooper intimated.

The women, quoted in the statement said, “It is with profound dismay that we have learned that the Houses’ Committee on Elections and Referendum met to discuss the draft of amendments to the new Elections Law of 1986, and decided to remove the proposed amendments to Section 4.5 before the draft comes to plenary.”

“This is a complete violation and disrespect to all international and regional laws and protocols our country signed and ratified.  Section 4.5 1b does not give women seats on a silver platter, but rather gives them a space to freely compete and campaign as the men do, and win,” the women intoned.

In 2014, the Legislature amended Section 4.5 the new Elections Law (NEL) such that it now provides that: “A political party or coalition in its submission to the 21 Commission, of its list of candidates for an election should endeavor to ensure that the governing body and its list of candidates has no less than 30% of its members from each gender.

The women in partnership with Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON) therefore call on members of the House of Representatives to reinstate the text that was reportedly removed from the proposed new Elections Law. Additionally, the women urged the lawmakers to further demonstrate their support to women’s political participation by ensuring a vote for the amendments to be reinserted.

Receiving the communication on behalf of the Women Legislative Caucus, Representative Rosana G. D. H. Schaack promised to continue the advocacy for the passage of significant laws affecting women.

Also speaking at the event, Madam Julia Duncan-Cassell, former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) encouraged all women groups to remain committed in the effort intended to give women a political voice in the country.

Meanwhile, the women of Liberia are expected to hold a sit-in action today, Tuesday, at the grounds of the capitol Building in continuation of efforts to draw the lawmaker’s attention so as to reinstate the removed portion of Section 4.5 of the new Elections Law.

The gathering was attended by several women groups including WONGOSOL, AWLN, Movement for One Liberia, National Civil Society Council of Liberia, Women’s Rights and Gender Justice, Coalition of Political Party Women in Liberia and Liberia Women Advocacy Network  (LIWANET) as well as representation from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) amongst others.

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