MONROVIA: Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday, August 29, 2023 officially launched the Women Situation Room (WSR) in Liberia. The Women Situation Room aims to promote peaceful electoral environment and community security in Liberia, before, during and after the electoral period.
The flagship program is being implemented by the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security. Supported by the European Union, United Nations Development Program, United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, among others, the WSR also seeks to combat hate speech, political violence and enhance peaceful co-existence during and after the 2023 Presidential and legislative elections.
The program which was held at the Monrovia City Hall Ball Room, was launched and graced by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Chief Justice Cllr. Francis Johnson-Allison, members of the diplomatic community including ECOWAS, UN and the European Union, as well as representatives from political parties, grassroots women, youths and students and motorcyclists.
Officially launching the program, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, after observing silence and fatigue in the hall, raised a battle cry to awaken the audience. “Yohhhhh Yoh! Bateeeee o Batee!” she exclaimed, to which the audience responded with thrill.
The former Liberian leader said the chanting of slogans are not only meant to keep Liberians alert when they are fatigued during marathon meetings, but these battle cries are also meant to unify and bring the people together with a sense of oneness.
According to her, this is meant to tell Liberian that they are all one people, one nation from different tribes and counties, but with single objective of maintaining the peace and security of their community and the country.
‘’This tell us that we are all Liberians dedicated to the cause of rebuilding our nation; dedicated to not just ourselves but for our children, to give them the place to pursue their dreams and ambitions. That is why we have come together as a people,” she stated.
“Voting is a sacred duty; it is a constitutional duty. Take it seriously because when you cast that vote, you cast it for six years of your life. And you need to know that what you do, what you reap by your vote is what you will sow. So, to all of you, may God guide you. May He help you to do what is right, to listen to the vision; most of all, the purpose we all here, to do so in the environment of peace so that we can pursue our constitutional rights in the manner in which everyone is safe to do so, not expecting any reprisal, not expecting any reaction that is negative. We can do so in the peace that we have sacrificed and fought for over all these years,” former President Sirleaf remarked.
Madam Sirleaf also used the occasion to extol the ABIC and all of its donors, supporters and partners of the Women Situation Room for providing the funding for the project.
‘’Once again, we have come together in the spirit of unity, togetherness and the spirt of preserving the peace of this country. Let us vote because it’s a sacred responsibility and duty. Also, let us maintain the peace of our country for our generation here and to come. With that, I hereby launch the WSR,’’ she declared.
Earlier, giving an overview of the Women Situation Room, the Coordinator of the ABIC, Cllr. Dr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh described the WSR as a strategic platform that is meant to promote peace and unity.
Cllr. Chesson-Wureh said the WSR will be operating in Montserrado, Nimba, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, Bong, Lofa and Grand Gedeh Counties.
For her part, former Foreign Affairs Minister and ABIC Board of Directors Chairperson, Olubanke King-Akerele, extolled ABIC for launch of the Women Situation Room.
However, she called on the government of Liberia to investigate every electoral violence across the country, adding that the early warning signs of conflict are numerous and unacceptable.
For her part, the head of Rural Women, Madam Korpo Howard, extolled ABIC for taking the messages of peace and peaceful election to the counties.
“We thank you for taking this initiative to the trenches, especially to Maryland, River Gee, RiverCess Counties, among others. I am a witness and testament to your commitment on educating Liberians concerning the importance and maintenance of the peace,’’ she said.
Providing a historical overview of the signing of the Accra Peace Accord, Madam Theresa Lee Sherman said during the signing of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement, there were hesitations from the men, something that prompted the women to take action against the men by locking doors on them just to ensure the peace accord was signed.
The former Mano River Women president and a prominent woman of the WSR added that there were many sacrifices made to attain the peace today, therefore, everyone must hold the peace in high esteem.
At the same time, ECOWAS ambassador to Liberia Josephine Nkrumah lauded the initiator of the women’s situation room and the Board Chair of the Angie Brooks International Centre for their role in keeping the peace during and after elections, noting that the WSR has become a beacon not only in Liberia but also in the subregion. She recalled that the WSR played an important role in the Ghanaian elections as well as the Sierra Leone election, by making sure that peace is maintained in these countries during and after elections.
The European Union’s Permanent Representative to Liberia Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, for his part, said the Women’s Situation Room comprises women who have an intergenerational connection, asserting that women and girls are the holders of peace, noting further that women are the ones who brought peace to Liberia and are capable of keeping the peace.
He admonished the organizers of the WSR to include young boys and men in the WSR because they play an important role in maintaining the peace.