LIBERIA: Women Reinforce Advocacy for Equality

Friday, January 25, 2013
Western Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

A three-day symposium on gender issues that impact the 1986 constitutional reviewing process got underway in Monrovia yesterday with women groups calling for the preservation of certain basic rights in the Constitution seeking equal participation in political governance.

The women's zealous advocacy began despite a legislative action squashing a bill seeking 30% representation of women at all levels of governance.

At the opening of the program, Susan Williams, a visiting American Professor from the Center for Constitutional Democracy, Indiana University, described a constitution that does not address the issue of women in any country as "undemocratic."

At the YMCA Conference Hall on Broad Street, where women from diverse advocacy groups gathered to begin a three-day forum and symposium organized by the Law Reform Commission, Governance Commission and the Constitutional Review Committee to enhance a discussion on gender issues that impacts the 1986 constitutional reviewing process, Prof. Williams viewed the constitution as the foundation of a stable and prosperous democracy.

According to her, women's issue is an integral part of any good constitution without which, she emphasized, one cannot build a strong country.

"Women are over 50% of the population of Liberia. Any constitution that does not include women's perspective and address women's concerns cannot be called democratic," she said, pointing out that many countries have neglected this fact by excluding women from their governance process.

Liberian women were direct victims of the 14-year civil conflict that ravaged the country. Many were left completely traumatized with no hope or educational opportunities to upgrade themselves after the conflict.

Some still continue to suffer as a result of gender related violence meted out to them by their male counterparts in spite of all mechanisms and efforts put in place by the government to empower and protect them.

Despite these hurdles, the women remain undaunted as they continue to press for equal participation in the governance process. They also called for equal rights to natural resources and opportunities, protection against violence and abuse by other people, freedom from violence and discrimination, the right to own property and access to justice.