MONROVIA – President George Weah should appoint more women in his government if he is to live up to the self-styled “Feminist-in-Chief” title and Liberia to achieve gender equality and equity, Loretta Pope-Kai, the keynote speaker at the national celebration of the International Women’s Day, has said.
President Weah has appointed a number of women in government—on the cabinet and at the county level—with a few women legislators but their number is dwarfed by a huge number of men.
This year’s celebration of the day is being held under the global theme: “I am for Generational Equality, realizing Women’s Rights,” and the national theme: “Women’s rights for Generational equality.” Addressing a crowd of advocates and activists, government officials, traditional leaders and international partners on last Friday, Mrs. Pope-Kai, who is the chairperson-elect of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) called to President Weah to move from words to action.
“Playing lip service to women political participation and affirmative action must be eliminated,” Mrs. Pope-Kai said. “I want to use this occasion to call on His Excellency President Weah to show clear signs as the Feminist-in-Chief by ensuring that at least 30% participation of women in politics is actualized by ensuring that he kindly revisits his cabinet appointments to ensure that at least the 30% women representation is reflected.” She hailed the progress being made to pass the Affirmative Action Bill—that seeks that number of women’s participation in the government and politics—to be passed into law.
“Please permit me to remind you that our girls are tired of listening to long speeches and resolutions,” she added. “We must act now and take girls from the shackles of poverty, discrimination and disempowered to the space where they will enjoy and realize their full potentials as humans.” She called on the government to strengthen the Judiciary to speedily try cases of sexual and gender-based nature.
Mrs. Pope-Kai, however, urged women in leadership and and position of power to take the lead in efforts to increase women’s participation void of political, tribal and religious motivation. “Women who now sit on the decision-making tables of the motherland, must purposefully and committedly mentor young women and girls to prepare for leadership in political, social and economic sectors of our country,” she told the International Women’s Day audience at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town. We must stand with all of the girls and young women of this land and work tirelessly to empower them. This is not a matter of choice. We cannot afford to crawl on the issue of young girls and women empowerment if generational equality must be achieved.”
She signaled out the successes of the country in empowering women so far, including equal rights of women to own land as well as participate in land matters.
“Thankfully, today we do not only have a woman vice president but have a president who is our Feminist-in-Chief, who courageously passed the Domestic Violence Act, the Local Governance Act and the Land Rights Act that are all gender sensitive,” she said. “Our dear fathers and mothers, the custodian of our culture, took a bold step to suspend the Poro and Sande schools for one year and I believe they are committed to taking further actions.”
The International Women’s Day was on Sunday but was celebrated Liberia on last Friday for the convenience of organizers