Delegates at a gender stakeholders’ conference are reviewing and strengthening an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on women's political participation, signed between the National Elections Commission ( NEC) and nineteen (19) political parties in 2017.
The MOU supports the 30% gender quota, as per section 4.5 of the new elections law and its proposed amendment. It contains five pillars with specified actions to be implemented by political parties, toward achieving the 30% benchmark set by the National Elections Commission.
Less than 10% of women currently make up the Legislature. The gross under representation of Liberian women in both the Legislature and the overall governance structure has become a growing concern for electoral stakeholders including international partners, as women's equal political participation is key to sustaining peace and national development.
The factors that facilitate the exclusion of women in politics and governance may be the lack of finance, the level of socio-economic development that exist for women, which includes access to education and job opportunities, the type of political class systems, as well as cultural backgrounds.
The exclusion of women from decision-making bodies limits the possibilities for establishing the principles of democracy in a society, obstructing economic development and discouraging the attainment of gender equality.
As the National Elections Commission prepares for the conduct of four (4) By-Elections and the 2023 presidential and legislative elections, there are repeated calls to increase women's representation and participation in decision-making processes, especially at the level of the National Legislature.
Conference participants are expected to re-enforce the MoU with concrete actions that address the current challenges confronting women’s political participation and the measures needed to prevent violence against women in elections.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is supporting the NEC, to convene the gender stakeholders-dialogue-conference on women’s political participation taking place in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, September 6 -7 and 9-10 respectively.
Funding for the conference comes from the Governments of Ireland and Sweden through Irish Aid and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) respectively.
The conference brings together Political Party Executives, women-focus civil society organizations, members of the Women Legislative Caucus, Commissioners of NEC, the Women Coalition of Political Parties of Liberia and advocates on women’s rights.