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  • Writer's pictureMarie S.

The role of women in Liberian politics



Women in Liberia have been underrepresented in politics for many years. While they make up over half of the population, they are vastly underrepresented in political decision-making positions. The Liberian government has taken steps to address this issue by adopting policies aimed at promoting gender equality, but progress has been slow. In this report, we will examine the role of women in Liberian politics, the challenges they face, and the opportunities for improvement.


Current State of Women in Liberian Politics:


Despite the fact that women make up over 50% of Liberia's population, their representation in politics is low. In the 2017 general elections, only 10% of the candidates were women, and only 11 women were elected to the House of Representatives, out of a total of 73 seats. In the Senate, only 1 out of the 30 senators is a woman.


As of 2021, women occupy only 10 out of 103 seats in the Liberian House of Representatives, and 1 out of 30 seats in the Senate. This means that women make up less than 10% of elected officials in the country. This low representation of women in politics is not unique to Liberia, as it is a common issue in many African countries.



The low representation of women in Liberian politics has implications for the country's development and governance. Studies have shown that women's participation in politics and decision-making can lead to more equitable and inclusive policies and can promote gender equality in society. Furthermore, having more women in politics can help to address issues that affect women, such as gender-based violence and access to healthcare.


There are several factors that contribute to the low representation of women in Liberian politics. One of the main challenges is cultural norms and gender stereotypes that limit women's participation in politics. Additionally, women in Liberia face significant barriers to education and employment, which can make it difficult for them to gain the skills and resources needed to enter politics.


Despite these challenges, there are women in Liberia who are working to increase women's representation in politics. Organizations such as the Women's NGO Secretariat of Liberia are working to build the capacity of women leaders and promote women's participation in politics. Additionally, the Liberian government has taken steps to address gender inequality, such as passing a Gender Equity Bill in 2018, which aims to increase women's participation in politics and decision-making.


Challenges for Women in Liberian Politics:


Cultural norms and attitudes towards gender roles have been identified as a major obstacle to women's participation in politics in Liberia. Women are often seen as inferior to men, and their roles are limited to domestic chores and child-rearing. This perception of women is deeply ingrained in society and is often reflected in political institutions.


Lack of access to resources is another challenge facing women in Liberian politics. Women often lack the financial resources and networks necessary to run for political office. In addition, women are also often denied access to education and training opportunities that could help them acquire the skills needed for political leadership.


The lack of education and access to resources is another barrier for women, as they may not have the necessary skills or support to run successful political campaigns. Furthermore, women in politics are often subjected to gender-based violence and discrimination, which can undermine their confidence and deter them from running for office.


Opportunities for Improvement:


The Liberian government has taken steps to promote gender equality in politics. The National Gender Policy of Liberia, which was adopted in 2009, seeks to increase women's participation in decision-making processes. The government has also adopted a gender quota system, which requires political parties to reserve a certain percentage of seats for women.


Women's groups and civil society organizations have also played a critical role in advocating for women's rights and increasing their participation in politics. These groups provide training and mentorship opportunities for women interested in running for political office. In addition, they also lobby for gender-responsive policies and programs.


Conclusion:

The underrepresentation of women in Liberian politics is a significant challenge, but progress is being made. The government's adoption of gender-responsive policies and programs, as well as the work of civil society organizations and women's groups, are helping to increase women's participation in politics. However, more needs to be done to address the cultural and social barriers that prevent women from fully participating in political decision-making processes.


Contributing factors to the low representation of women in Liberian politics:

  • Traditional gender roles. In Liberia, traditional gender roles dictate that women are responsible for domestic duties and childcare, while men are responsible for providing for the family and participating in public life. This can make it difficult for women to find the time and resources to run for office.

  • Lack of education and training. Women in Liberia are more likely to be illiterate than men, and they are less likely to have received formal education beyond primary school. This lack of education can make it difficult for women to compete in elections against men who have more education and experience.

  • Poverty. Women in Liberia are more likely to live in poverty than men. This can make it difficult for women to raise the money they need to campaign for office.

  • Violence against women. Violence against women is a serious problem in Liberia. Women who run for office may be subjected to threats, intimidation, and violence. This can discourage women from running for office and participating in public life.

Despite these challenges, there are a number of women who are working to increase women's representation in Liberian politics. These women are working to challenge traditional gender roles, provide education and training to women, and raise awareness of the issue of violence against women. They are also working to support women who are running for office.


Women's representation in Liberian politics is low, but there are potential solutions to increase their participation. Promoting gender equality in education, implementing affirmative action policies, and providing support and resources to female candidates can all contribute to greater representation of women in politics. The Chamber can play a role in advocating for policies that promote women's participation in politics and supporting initiatives that increase their representation.


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