News / Africa

Liberia's Female Candidates Face Obstacles

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (June 2011 file photo)
Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (June 2011 file photo)

Liberian voters made history five years ago by electing Africa's first female president. But as Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf runs for re-election, voters will find few female candidates on  ballots for other posts.

Liberia's Elections Commission is encouraging more women to run for elected office in a country where they make up less than 15 percent of the legislature.

Elections Commission trainers have met with women across Liberia about standing as party candidates for local and national office. Elections Commission chairman James Fromayan says the first obstacle is often political parties themselves.

“We try the best we can to appeal to political parties to begin with at the regular meetings with those parties to encourage women participation in the party at the executive committee level," he said. "You can't have an executive committee of sometimes 30 persons and just about two women. That is just not proper.”

Many obstacles

Fromayan says President Sirleaf's election raised the profile of  female candidates but Liberia has not seen their numbers grow as quickly as he anticipated.

“We can't just lay back and say well, we have a female president. As laudable as that is in Africa, the first, but we need to go beyond that. That should even serve as an impetus, as a means through which other younger women can say let's join politics. If Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf can make it, then we can also make it,” said Fromayan.

"Not many women are educated which lets them have that fear of partaking into politics. The husband may say that, 'I do not want for my wife to run in election.' And that is actually a problem,” says Korto Jallah Socree, an opposition candidate for a legislative district in Montserrado County.

Socree says there are still few women in positions of decision-making despite President Sirleaf's election.

“For the very few who have come out to put their hands up, they are under threat maybe by the community or by their male counterparts,” said Socree.

Lack of support

She adds that political parties do not give female candidates the same financial support as male candidates.

“They expect you to raise your own money because they don't even want you to be an antagonist to them, so they make it difficult for you to raise money,” she said.

Like Socree, most female candidates come from areas around the capital, Monrovia. So the London-based peace building group International Alert is focusing on candidates from more remote areas with training on how to run campaigns, deal with the media, and raise money.

“It is important that people outside Monrovia will also be a part of the transformation, said Jackson Speare, who directs Liberia programs for International Alert. "Gone are those days that women are not considered part of the national development. Women must be.”

Changing perceptions

Speare says President Sirleaf's reputation as the “Iron Lady” of Liberian politics has helped.

“People are beginning to challenge the perception that women can not represent them. So that will go a long way to help increase women's chances for election,” he said.

Speare also says the Sirleaf administration has improved the climate for female candidates with progress on issues of gender rights and equality by increasing the maximum sentence for rape, guaranteeing women’s right to property, and opening a special court to try cases of gender-based violence.



You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid