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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs