The Vice President of Liberia, Jewel Howard Taylor has said the only way women would be allowed to fill the minimum 30% political positions already apportioned to them is when electoral commissions in various ECOWAS countries stop political parties from presenting candidates for elections without meeting the quota.
Madam Taylor said her introduction into politics was made possible by a 2005 Liberian law in that stipulated that parties should not be allowed to participate in elections without meeting the required women’s quota. She said that made it possible for her and other women in Liberia to be elected, but lamented that in 2011, the provision was secretly removed and has drastically reduced the number of elected women in Liberia.
The Liberian Vice President, who yesterday in Abuja addressed members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Female Parliamentary Association (ECOFEPA), said West African politics was mainly run by the men and would be difficult for the women to get the 30% slot if something radical is not done.
She said the electoral bodies in the countries should force the hands of political parties by ensuring that they do not go into elections without meeting the women’s quota.
Madam Taylor on Thursday in a goodwill message during the Opening of the ECOWAS Parliament 1st 2021 Ordinary Session challenged the ECOWAS Parliament to push for appropriate implementation of the community protocol on gender and human equality across regional and local governments.
The Liberian Vice President said gender equality is a fundamental human right, yet women were underrepresented in power and decision making roles, lamenting that women around the region did not fully experience equal rights and their potential as economic, social and sustainable change-agents remains untapped.
She told the Assembly: “Excellency, special guests, distinguished members of the ECOWAS Parliament, as I close, permit me to say I will be remiss if I remain silent on this August gathering of regional leaders about the perennial issue of the lack of gender equality in our local and regional body politics. Today as we induct new parliamentarians, this fact is more glaring. There are 115 members of this body with sadly only 20 females, but the principles outlined in the existing protocols that there should be a minimum 30% of females. This means parliament is short 15 more women representatives. May I therefore request your indulgence to ensure by the rules guiding this parliament that the National Representative to the ECOWAS Parliament send the requisite number of women in their delegation as a condition precedent for national teams to be seated. If this is taken, a number of women who would represent women across the region here in this August body will definitely increase.”
She is quoted as saying, “I therefore recommend that this honourable body takes the political will to further implement the protocols which have been exceeded by demonstrating a full commitment to gender equality.”
The Vice President added that, “The issue of gender equality, Mr. Speaker, has been globally discussed at all levels in the sustainable development goals. I believe that it is now a consensus among all stakeholders that women must be included in all governance frameworks. The reasons is simple, if 50% of the world’s population is excluded from governance frameworks, you would have at your disposal only 50% energy, 50% of the innovation and fifty percent of the capacities for growth, for development. Permit me to say that I believe it is the same today as it was when I was growing up, for example, a score of 50% is just not good enough to pass, but our Parliament, our national government and our regional bodies have agreed to a minimum of a 30% quota, which is still not a pass mark but a good starting point which is yet to be enforced. I pray we will see a new trust of gender equality in this era, for indeed this Parliament is the direct representative of community citizens. It is a right body to drive national governance to fulfil the obligations that they have exceed to.”
Taylor further said: “Permit me to leave you with the solemn words of one of Africa’s greatest son, the late revolutionary leader, President Thomas Sankara, former President of Burkina Faso who said and I quote; the revolution in women’s liberation goes together, we do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity, but because of the surge in human compassion, it is a basic necessity for the triumph of the revolution for women holding the other half of the sky.”