Liberia’s Vice President Laments Massive Decline of Females in High Decision-making Positions

Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor

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Gbarnga, Bong County – Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor says she is saddened by the massive decline of the number of female participants at high decision-making positions in the country.


Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]


“I
hope you will change your perspective today, that others control your destiny.
In my experience, the external factors make up only 30% of the equation; whilst
the internal factor makes up 70%. And with 70% in your favor, you can be
anything you want to be. The choice is yours to make,” Vice President
Taylor urged the young women.

Speaking
in Gbarnga, Bong County, recently at the start of a two-day ‘Young Women
Empowerment and Mentorship in Leadership,’ a program organized by National
Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAYMOTE)-Partners for Democratic
Development with support from the Canadian Government and the UN-Women, VP
Taylor admonished young women in the country to redouble their efforts and
build suppleness in their quests for augmented women’s participation in decision-making
if they (women) must achieve gender balance in national leadership.   

Speaking
to over 50 young women, the Vice President pointed out despite the many
ministries and agencies; there are not many women in the driver-seats, adding:
“Many of those in the drivers’ seats are men, although there are many women who
are second but they are not in the drivers’ seats, rather they are at different
levels. When it comes to representation and sitting at that table, the final
person with the final voice, is a man.” 

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“In
2006, when we came in, there were many women in the drivers’ seats, but today
that number has dwindled. Look at the Liberian Senate with 30 members, only one
woman,” Vice President Taylor told the young women. 

She
commended partners, including UN-Women, NAYMOTE, Canadian Government and others
that continued to kindle this fire of female participation, noting, they are
trying to ensure that the next generation of female leaders are given the tools
they need to fully participate at all levels.

Vice
President Taylor lauded Liberian women for their resilience and assured them
that one day the issue of gender equality in the national space will become a
reality.

Madam
Taylor encouraged the young ladies to develop visions for leadership, do away
with their fears, build personal characters, and work harder with commitment,
if they are to strike a balance with their male counterparts for leadership.

“It
is only those nations, which have learnt to harness and automatize the skills
and the ability of its entire people that will prosper,” VP Howard Taylor
said.   

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Giving
the overview of the project, NAYMOTE’s Program Director, Aaron Weahweah, III,
said the Young Women Empowerment and Mentorship in Leadership program is aimed
at helping to ensure more women’s participation in national leadership in
Liberia.

According
to Weahweah, his organization seeks to build a cadet of interested, diverse and
capable women leaders, who will willingly engage Liberia’s political space by
producing reforms as well as contesting and winning political seats to foster
pro-poor women policies in the nation’s governance processes.

He
further said the project will recruit 75 young women and train them in campaign
planning, campaign budgeting, campaign team building as well as leadership
qualities and skills.

Weahweah
also indicated that the women will also be trained how to campaign to win votes
during elections, adding that the participants will be formed into a national
young women council to help champion women’s political participation in
Liberia.

He
said the council will build partnerships with different professional women
groups in the country to foster causes of women’s participation in leadership.

For
her part, the Deputy Country Representative of UN Women, Ms. Sangeeta Thapa,
emphasized the need for the full participation of women and men in leadership
and decision-making, if the country’s development drive must be completed.

“Beginning
from 1949 when women in Liberia gained suffrage to 2005 when Liberia
democratically elected Africa’s first female President, women have not seized
to contribute their fair share to the development of the country, evidenced by
the election of the first female Vice President in Liberia but you need to do
more, adding, as you can see of the 19 ministries, only two female
Ministers-proper,” Madam Thapa stated. 

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She
called for a collective effort that will ensure more women’s participations in
national leadership and decision-making, terming the low participation of women
in government as a “national emergency” that must be treated with urgency.

Out
of 73 members of the House of Representatives in Liberia, nine are female with
just a female in the Senate, following the death of Geraldine-Doe Sheriff.

She
thanked NAYMOTE for the initiative to help work with young women to change the
trend, pledging UN Women’s commitment to ensuring Liberia accomplishes women’s
inclusion in national decision-making.

Thapa
called on the participants to do all in their powers to grab the knowledge and
skills being provided at the program as a basis for the political feature.
Some relevant topics discussed at the two-day
event included, the Concept of Gender, Women in Politics; Claiming the Space,
Fighting Exclusion, Civic Engagement, Leadership Styles and Qualities,
Mentorship Strategy, among others.


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