Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – The advocacy calling for women to have more opportunities to participate in elections, politics or national decision making was given a boost when the Alternative National Congress (ANC) selected four females to contest legislative seats in Grand Bassa County.
The four female aspirants were voted during the ANC’s recent primaries held in Buchanan and they will respectively contest in four of the five electoral districts in the October polls. The four districts are electoral district one, three, four and five.
The primaries were held over the weekend at the ANC’s Grand Bassa chapters’ headquarters.
Mmonbaydo Juah Harrell was elected to contest in electoral district three, Elizabeth Mardyupleh Barwon elected to contest for electoral district three (Buchanan City), while Tryphina Gomar Lloyd won on a white ballot to contest on the party’s ticket in electoral district one.
For electoral district four, Etta Kpue Nasser was also elected to contest for the representative seat after winning Joseph Lloyd in the primary 23 to 11 votes.
Their elections in the primary is a boost for female involvement in Liberia’s politics as calls increase for more female participation and seats at the legislature.
The House of Representatives on September 29, 2016, concurred with the Senate to pass the Equal Representation and Participation Act of 2016 otherwise known as ‘Affricative Action Law’. The law established seven ‘Special Constituencies’, among which five seats would be reserved for women, one for youth and one for the disabled.
But while the law seems to be procrastinating in its implementation, the ANC made a significant progress by giving women the space to contest in Liberia’s crucial October elections.
Although the four women success in Grand Bassa County doesn’t assure any seats for them at the capitol, it highlights the renewed zest female politicians are showing in a political arena dominated by their male counterpart. The current political landscape and interplays predict that a man would obviously succeed President Sirleaf in January 2018.
Major advocates of the law including the United Nations through its agency UN Women, says the law ensures the protection of women’s rights in accordance with Liberia’s international commitments.
“While Liberia has made immense progress in the promotion of women’s participation in politics, the enactment of the Act into law will guarantee the participation of more women and other marginalized segments of the population,” said Peterson Magoola, head of the UN agency in 2016.
Following the announcement of the primaries results on Saturday, June 11 in the Port City of Buchanan, many women in the county jubilated, some of them were singing songs of praises to the ANC political leader Alexander Benedict Cummings – thanking him for allowing the women the space to contest and represent the party in the impending legislative elections.
Speaking during an interview, one of the women, Mmonbaydo Juah Harrell, hailed the Alternative National Congress for “opening a space that has involved more women into contesting for public offices,” something she advised the rest of the political parties to emulate in order to help increase the number of women in politics.
“Alexander Benedict Cummings party is the only party in Grand Bassa County for the first time in the history of the county to promote four women from four electoral districts out of five electoral districts to contest on the party’s ticket during election,” Madam Harrell said.
The female advocate also said, “Women need to put themselves into the development process of Liberia by taking public offices”. She said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf opened the way for women to compete against men for public offices, adding that “it will continue forever”.
“We as women can do well more than most of the men in those public offices, but more men are taking over those positions because of the fear that women had which has been taken away by Madam Sirleaf,” she asserted.
The representative hopeful argues that female candidates may face gaps in capacities or resources that prevent them from competing effectively, but she encouraged them to “stand up for a reason to challenge the men in every positive direction”.
Outlining some of the challenges female voters encounter during elections, Madam Harrell said most women feel reluctant to turn out to vote due to the challenges of getting to polling centres. She said some of these polling stations are set up in faraway places that make it difficult for women to go there because they also have to cater to their children on polling day.
She added: “Equality between women and men is the matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and is also a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, development and peace; a transformed partnership based on equality between women and men are conditions for people sustainable development”.
The ANC representative aspirant who will be contesting against the incumbent lawmaker, Gabriel Buchanan Smith of Liberty Party, encouraged female electorates to join women that have contributed to the growth and development of the country because “every human being has the right to participate in the decisions that define his or her life”.
Reporting By: Alpha Daffae Senkpeni and Elton Wroinbee Tiah
Editor’s Note: This report also published by FrontPage Africa Newspaper.