MONROVIA – Liberia’s first female Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor celebrates her 60th birthday anniversary on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, marking two decades of active humanitarian interventions of a statesperson who, despite her lofty stations in governance and politics, continues to champion gender equality and the education of girls in her homeland. As the Analyst reports, the celebration of Jewel’s 60th birthday is a celebration for women all over the world, with Liberia being the fulcrum of her interventions.
The name Jewel Howard Taylor is indeed synonymous with gender equality and humanitarian interventions. While serving as First Lady of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, Liberia’s current Vice President founded and led the National Humanitarian Task Force to provide food, humanitarian and medical services to thousands of Liberians who were displaced as a result of the civil war. She also advocated for and championed the creation of the Ministry of Gender, which is today the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
She is one of Liberia’s foremost advocates for increased and improved opportunities for women of Liberia and Africa, and is now being called the “Jewel of Africa.”
Her Starfish Foundation continues to cater to the empowerment of girls and young women across the country.
“The Jewel Starfish Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that is creating a ‘new normal’ for girls – helping create champions of a world in which girls can reach their full potential and the intergenerational cycle of poverty can be broken,” says VP Howard-Taylor, noting that the Foundation seeks to keep girls in school, helping them develop career paths by providing mentorship program and implementing training programs (with a training-of-trainer component) for women leaders with the objective of creating diverse networks and building the needed technical and professional skills.
An astute stateswoman, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, while visibly involved in politics, remains a strong voice for gender equality. She continues to advocate for affordable but quality education; a fair and transparent justice system; the improvement of accessible health care systems; improved women’s economic and political participation; and an accountable public service system, amongst others.
Collaborating with the international community, VP Taylor has been trenches advocating for violence against women and girls in Liberia, exemplified by her launching the U/UN Spotlight Initiative in Liberia on June 19, 2019 in Tienne, Grand Cape Mount County. The four-year programme aimed to end all forms of violence against women and girls in Liberia.
Further recognizing the role of women in healing Mother Earth and averting the debilitating effects of climate change, VP Howard-Taylor is on record for highlighting the critical role of women participation in building a peaceful and sustainable climate-resilient Africa.
“Until the world shifts to a position of true gender equality, women will remain the most negatively affected at all levels…unable to use their collective strength in helping to solve issues like climate change and world peace,” VP Taylor said, when she spoke at a high-level event on the margins of the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women held in New York in March 2022.
The event was organized by the African Women Leaders’ Network (AWLN), in collaboration with the Group of Friends of AWLN New York, co-chaired by Germany and South Africa, together with UN Women and the International Peace Institute (IPI).
As a result of her national impact, Vice President Taylor has received many accolades, laurels and awards from local, national and International Organizations, ranging from humanitarian awards to outstanding Leadership awards.
Key amongst local and national Awards bestowed on VP Taylor are “Women Activist Award, (2016)” for her role in gender advocacy and empowerment; The Nation’s highest honor as Knight Great Dame, Order of the Most Venerable Order of the Pioneers in 2005, granted to her by Former President Charles G. Taylor for her service to the Nation as the 21st First Lady of Liberia; The First Female to be given the Distinguished Traditional Title of Venerable Chief in the National Traditional Council of Liberia in 2011, a Chieftaincy title conferred on her by Traditional Chiefs and Elders of Bong County for her role in sponsoring the a bill which created the National Traditional Council of Liberia, and in full recognition of her exemplary Services to the people of Bong, yea Liberia; “The Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Presidential Recognition Award for Humanitarian Services and contribution to Youth Development in Liberia” from the (AAW Peace) African & American Women in 2011; “Senator of the Year, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015” from various organizations; “The National Excellence Award for National Service” in 2011; and “The National Excellence Award for Philanthropy in 2009.
Madam Taylor also garnered a slew of enviable international awards in recognition of her sterling contributions to the women leadership, among which are “The Pan African Award on Leadership Excellence & Women Empowerment, an Humanitarian Award 2016”; “Woman of the Year, 2016” given by the West African Philanthropist Organization; “Women Activist Award, 2016”; “West Africa Philanthropy Awards as Woman of the Year, 2016”; “2nd Chance International Award as a Woman of Distinction 2015”, New York City USA; “(ECOWAS) ECOFEPA Good Will Ambassador”, Abuja, Nigeria; 2015; “Women Advancement Forum Award in recognition of her contribution to the Emancipation, Motivation and Advancement of Women of the World”; 2014, Gambia; “The Outstanding African Women Achievers Award”, as African Mentor and Role Model 2013, from the African Women Leadership Organization(AWLO), in Nigeria; “An African Leadership Award”, as Outstanding African Female Leader of the Year 2012 from the African Leadership Award, in Dubai; and an Excellence Award in Recognition of her Advocacy for the Rights and Empowerment of women from the African Women in Leadership Organization (AWLO) in 2012, in Nigeria.
On the cusp of her 60th birthday celebration, VP Taylor has been selected as on Africa’s 100 Most Influential Women by Leaders Reputation Poll International.
According to the research firm, the list was put together with inspiration from the 2021 International Women’s Day theme: “Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, and it features women from 28 African countries who inspire the next generation of women around the world.
Reputation Poll International (RPI) is a strategic consultancy agency specializing in corporate reputation management. It helps its clients achieve their objectives by communicating more effectively with their customers, investors, employees, policy-makers, regulators, and the wider public.
Vice President Chief Dr. Taylor is a daughter of Bong County, born to the Royal Household of Kerkula Giddings of Sanoyea District. King Giddings in his tenure wrote the script to the Kpelle language. The Vice President was raised as a child on the Phebe Hospital Compound under the watch of her loving parents, Mr. Moses Y. Howard and Mrs. Nora Giddings-Howard, both of whom were enviable professional Health Workers who died in service to the people of Bong County and are buried at the Phebe Compound.