Liberia: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Holds Closed-Door Meeting with Influential Women; Eyes More Women Ascendancy in Legislature
Monrovia – Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has held a closed-door meeting with scores of influential women leaders and groups in Monrovia, in a bid to help solicit or galvanize the necessary support for female politicians contemplating on contesting the ensuing mid-term senatorial election.
The mid-term senatorial election is expected to take place in Liberia on December 8, 2020, according to the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Women leaders from WIPNET, WONGOSOL, Rural Women Leadership, among others were part of the meeting held with the ex-Liberian leader.
The closed meeting took place at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Center located at Sinkor, Monrovia during the late evening hours of Wednesday, September 2.
A source who attended the meeting but preferred not to be named, disclosed that the meeting was also intended for potential Liberian female leaders to stand behind their colleagues planning to contest the senatorial election in various counties in Liberia.
“Women stakeholders were invited by Madam Sirleaf for us to take about the need for us to put women in the Senate during this upcoming mid-term senatorial election. It was a very, very powerful meeting”.
During the meeting, Madam Sirleaf underscored the significance for the election of more women at the National Legislature.
Participants at the closed-door meeting vowed to find the most viable female candidates in the counties to lend their support both financially and morally to guarantee their elections in the pending senatorial race.
“We are going to raise monies among ourselves and give it to them to run their campaigns. We will campaign with them and for them. We are going to put all of our weight behind them”.
The source divulged that female aspiring to become senators in their respective counties will be thoroughly vetted after the nomination process of the National Election Commission (NEC) before the necessary supports are provided to them.
The source added that women who have passed the vetting process will solely be supported in all of the processes.
“We have observed that there are strong women out there in the various counties who do not have the financial strength to even go through the process; and so, we will be giving them all of the support to contest”.
The source named Grand Bassa, Nimba, Grand Kru, Grand Cape Mount, Bong, and Sinoe, among others as counties that have strong women planning to contest the senatorial race in their respective counties.
“For some of us, we are not waiting for the vetting process. We are going to help some of these strong women who have the strength to contest but may have a short hand, get through with the nomination process”.
According to our source, the decision taken by Madam Sirleaf and others to give financial and other supports to females during this electioneering period is due to the high level of financial constraints and difficulties women experienced after declaring their intention to contest national elections.
The closed meeting comes in the wake of mounting calls from female politicians and leaders for the amendment of the rape law of Liberia to include harsher and tougher punishments for rapists.
More than 970 rape cases have been reported in Liberia for the past seven months, according to the latest statistics released by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
At the meeting, the participants also stressed the need for the ascendancy of more women at the National Legislature to speak against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) issues that continue to affect women, girls and minors in the Liberian society.
The lack of access to finances, and logistical support, amongst others continue to serve as major impediments or obstacles hindering the election of more females at the level of the National Legislature.
But in 2005, Madam Sirleaf broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first democratically elected female President of Africa in the wake of numerous constraints and challenges at the time.
Since then, the ex-Liberian leader has been a strong advocate for female political empowerment and ascendancy.