CSO Think Tank Thumbs Up Amendment to Electoral Laws

Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP) a national non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to foster research and peacebuilding in Liberia has welcomed the amendment of Section 4.5 of the 1986 Election Law by the House of Representatives, describing it as a bold step taken to enhance women’s participation and representation in political decision making in Liberia.

“Last week, the House of Representatives voted to amend Section 4.5 of the 1986 election law which set aside an exclusive 30% for women representation in every political party during the submission of candidates to the National Elections Commission (NEC).  Section 4.5 (1d) of the Elections Law Amendment Act also requires Political Party or Coalition to have at least one-woman contestant for every primary at a convention for each constituency”, a release from the institution said.

The release continued further.“P4DP notes that even though National Action Plans (NAPs) have been developed in Liberia to help with the implementation of UNSCR 1325, their highly bureaucratic nature has proven them to be ineffective at creating meaningful women participation in national decision making process and disturbingly encounter several challenges, including structural barriers, lack of political will and avalanche of social and cultural barriers. P4DP laments that women’s participation in politics and public office in Liberia has remained staggeringly low with the Upper House recording a 6.7-point drop, bringing women’s representation to 6.7% or two female senators which makes Liberia the lowest performing country in the region for women in the Upper House of the Parliament and the world’s 3rd lowest in the Upper Chamber of Parliament”.

The research organization also observed that within the House of Representatives in Liberia, out of 73 law makers, there are only 8 women which constitute 11%. This remains less than the 30% minimum benchmark set by the Beijing platform for action 25 years ago.  P4DP believes there is a correlation between participation and representation as well as access to socio-economic benefits.  As such, P4DP calls for sustained national efforts to improve the socio-economic conditions and political participation of women by deepening women’s participation and representation in local and national decision-making processes.

“P4DP notes that even though there has been relative improvement in women’s issues in Liberia, the odds in economic and social systems are still stacked against women in relation to empowerment over economic resources, participation and political representation which have eventually put Liberia’s gender empowerment indicators at the lowest global ranking. To this end, P4DP implored the Liberian Senate for concurring with the House of Representatives on the amendment of Section 4.5 of the Election Law. P4DP encourages the National Civil Society Council of Liberia to work with the House of Parliament and all CSOs working on these issues to increase the momentum and ensure that the recent amendment yields the desired objective”, the release said further.

The release which was signed by the Executive Director and CEO, Mr. James S. Shilue said as a leading peacebuilding and development institution, P4DP promotes a safe, peaceful and integrated Liberian society by using evidence based research and participatory action activities in urban and rural communities to identify development needs and challenges of communities. Since its establishment, P4DP has worked and continues to work with multi-stakeholder groups, including government, civil society, communities and development partners in addressing women’s issues in the country through research and community-based dialogues and consultations.

It can be recalled that late 2021, P4DP launched a research report which uncovered social and cultural practices against women and girls in Liberia. The research, with was funded by Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund and Spotlight Initiative administered by UN Women, unearthed a range of social and cultural norms that are contributing to the marginalization of women and other forms of violence serving as major barriers to women’s participation in decision making processes and political participation in society.

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