Liberia: The Feminist in Chief Must Hear This!


At the time that Liberia and the Coalition for Democratic Change mourns the falling of probably the last towering female political figure in the original Congress for Democratic Change, I’m concerned that the tribute to the fallen female lawmaker could not transcend a beautiful and befitting ceremony. 

By Facia Harris, [email protected], Contributing Writer

As someone who engaged with Munah, I knew her desire for women’s participation and know for a fact that Munah Phelam Youngblood would be ashamed of her party’s list for the December 8, 2020 Senatorial Elections. 

*“Don’t be afraid; just put your foot in’* (politics) she would say, once confronted in a side conversation on women political participation. Whether or not you were politically aligned, she wanted more women in decision making. She encouraged me to run for office. 

Alas, if or when I do, I can only give Munah her flowers posthumously. 

May her soul rest in perfect peace. 

While we bury Munah, I hold brief for the President as Feminist in Chief. He chose the title, I don’t believe he has earned it just yet. He wants to be called so, and so I’ll oblige. 

I swear, the President as Feminist in Chief, Standard Bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change and the Political Leader of the Congress for Democratic Change, hasn’t seen this list of aspirants, soon to be candidates his party put forward for the 2020 Senatorial Elections. If he does, and if he is in his ‘Feminist in Chief’ mood, he’ll ask them to take it back! It’s a slap in the face! 

If nothing else, how can the governing party, with a 30% gender quota enshrined in their constitution field a list with 0% female candidates?

And as if that is not enough, endorse a man who leaves his Ministry of Foreign Affairs post to contest against the lone female in the Senate. 

Where is the Feminist in Chief when we need to see him in action?

And forgive my ignorance but I’m not sure the Minister of Gender is part of the party Executive that made the decision. Or is it that they are simply not listening to her advice?  I say so because for someone who supervised the revision and launch of the revised “Women Manifesto” this is an affront! 

It is an affront to the collective work by the women of Liberia and the male counterparts who support women political participation and leadership. The Minister of Gender cannot preside over frameworks for the advancement of women including their enhanced political participation, leadership and representation, yet not raise a finger in objection when her party releases an all male lineup in what is probably the most crucial post war election for women. *For a senate with only 1 woman out of 30 seats?*

If perhaps the party is not heeding her voice as the policy leader for government on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE), my plea to her will be, *’Return to the Barracks’*- we need a strong woman in the party leadership! We can’t have this gaff in 2023! *There are currently only 8 women out of 73 seats* (one vacant tho, due to the passing of Munah). It is scary and it is unthinkable!

CDC can do better than replicate the Unity Party Convention in the dying days of her incumbency that produced only the head of the women’s wing as a woman. CDC must not try to outdo the UP’s dismal record. 

Is it even too late for the Feminist in Chief to reverse this decision?

And there are those who still question why our demand for women in decision making doesn’t grow cold. 

Here’s why:

Having more women in politics contributes to lasting peace, stability, and greater prosperity;

Governments with greater gender balance see greater investments in health, education, and social services characterized by greater transparency and accountability. 

All very important areas of need for our country. 

Liberia can’t wait for 49% of the population, according to the 2008 census to have a chance in leadershipand decisionmaking. 

A lot of effort has been made and at this point we cannot overemphasize the for collective will from all political institutions and political leaders. 

Our legal frameworks to ensure women participate in our national politics need an overhaul. It will take political will to make it happen. 

Until then, other political organizations and parties hold the key to putting women in the Senate,  because clearly in the opinion of the CDC for the next 9 years, the Senate should not have a woman. 

The Feminist in Chief must hear this. 

Sisters Arise. 

I am Facia Boyennoh Harris 

Facia Boyennoh Harris is a women’s activist