Pres. Sirleaf: Female Representation Down in National Legislature

MONROVIA, Montserrado – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says female representation at the National Legislature has dropped significantly over the years.

According to an Executive Mansion release, Sirleaf made the disclosure recently when she held an interactive engagement with 152 female candidates running for elected positions at the C. Cecil Dennis auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“It was regrettable that during the 2005 elections, only 13 women were elected to the national legislature while in 2011 the number dropped to 8,” Sirleaf said.

The president said the significant drop in female representation is a setback and she challenged the women to work hard and take the necessary actions ahead of the upcoming elections.

Liberia’s 103 legislative seats are currently occupied by 11 women, which means only 10.7 percent of lawmakers are women – a figure that is staggering in a country that celebrates electing Africa’s first female president.

Figures from the National Elections Commission on the number of female candidates registered from each party showed an alarming fact that Sirleaf’s party was not one of the parties with the five highest percentage of female candidates.

In fact, only one of the major parties placed in the top five: the Alternative National Congress, which had 21.21 percent of its candidates as women – good enough for second place.

While the elections law suggests that parties set a 30 percent threshold for female candidates, no party met that requirement and the National Elections Commission has said it would not penalize any party as the law did not make the threshold binding.

Sirleaf said to correct Liberia’s poor history of electing female candidates, female candidates should show their individual achievements in their various communities that can serve as testimonies.

“Money is not all it takes to win elections,” the president said. She cautioned the female candidates to be determined and work harder in their communities.

“If women must succeed in the October elections, they must amalgamate their forces,” Sirleaf said. She also underscored the need to identify formidable female candidates and provide them with significant support to boost their chances of being elected.

Sirleaf observed that politics is not an easy game, recounting that she did not immediately ascend to the presidency on her first attempt.

“You will have to climb step-by-step,” she said. “Women who have been working in their communities have sowed seeds already and are standing on solid ground in the elections.”

She pledged her continued commitment to working with the Liberian Women Political Forum and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection to increase the number of women representation at the National Legislature.

The 152 female candidates who met with Sirleaf included 1 presidential and 6 vice presidential candidates.

Featured photo courtesy of the Executive Mansion Press

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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