A one day women leadership retreat has taken place in Paynesville, with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf challenging Liberian women to assume leadership roles at all levels. The President said she would support the principle of women competing with men and taking up various elected positions at various levels including leadership roles in political parties in the country.

“We want to see women in politics at all levels. It is not just for President. We are talking about going down there, taking county leadership, political party leadership at the county level, at the district level, community levels and standing out in your communities,” the President urged the more than over hundred women from all levels of the Liberian society.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader noted that it would be difficult for women to make an impact into competitive leadership positions, if they have not demonstrated their potentials at the entry levels of national leadership, particularly at the local levels.

President Johnson Sirleaf spoke Saturday, August 7, during a one day Women Leadership Retreat, hosted by her on the theme, “Women and Leadership: Our Time to Lead. The workshop, held at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, identified gains made by women leaders in society, the challenges they face, and offered recommendations to overcome the challenges.

The Liberian leader urged the participants to ensure that the vision of the interactive forum should be one which would ensure that every young girl at birth should know that she can be whatever she wants to be without any political, legal and social barriers. “To achieve that, we all have to work on all the issues raised here at the forum. You identified the challenges, the opportunities; what we need now is take all of those into specific strategies; time-bound roadmap, toward the achievement of specific identified goals,” the President pointed out.

Participants at the retreat, moderated by Madam Leymah Gbowee, the Executive Director of Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa, identified achievements in women’s leadership over the last five years, in the provision of basic social services, including pipe borne water, electricity, roads, shelter for the vulnerable and steady increase in the availability of locally grown food on the Liberian market.

Participants also discussed the economic standing of women in the Liberian society, as well as improvement in peace and security, but were quick to caution Government to ensure that women are empowered to compete with men, in areas, ranging from land ownership to employment based on gender equity.

The full day event brought together women leaders including Montserrado County Superintendent, Grace Kpan, Cllr. Yvette Chesson Wureh, of the Angie Brooks Center, Madam Maureen Parker, an Executive Member of the National Oil Company of Liberia, Madam Mama Tumbay, Head of the Traditional Women of Liberia, Dr. Evelyn Kandakai, Executive Director of the Liberia Educational Trust (LET), Mrs. Amelia Ward, Former Planning Minister of Liberia; Gender Minister Varbah Gayflor, Agriculture Minister, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, Foreign Minister, Olubankie King Akerele, Mrs. Theresa Leigh Sherman, Head of the Liberian National Red Cross Society, Maryland County Senator, Gloria Scott, among others.