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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora