29 January 2013

Liberia: Constitution Must Consider Women Participation

A Professor of Law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in the United States of America has told the Constitution Review Committee of Liberia that a constitution would not be democratic unless its revision considers women participation.

Professor Susan H. Williams said there were several issues violating the rights of the women in countries around the world including Liberia; as such, any decision regarding constitution review must involve the inputs of women.

Professor Williams said given the fact where women constitute 50 percent of the country's population, any constitution that does not include women's perspectives and their concerns cannot be called democratic constitution.

She observed that in many countries including Liberia, women have not been included in the process of writing or revising constitutions, adding that it is now time for women to be actively involved in reviewing the constitution that reflects their needs and hopes for an improved democratic society.

Professor Williams made the assertion Wednesday in Monrovia at the start of a forum on women's rights and gender equality, implications for the review of the 1986 Liberian Constitution.

The Indiana University Law Professor told the forum that the right to resources and opportunities, clean environment and social security, protection from violence and abuse by other people as well as freedom from discrimination were some critical rights that need to be taken into serious consideration during the country's constitution review process.

Professor Williams is of the hope that these rights would be considered by the constitution review committee to provide a 'people centered' democratic nation.

Also speaking, the Co-chairperson of the Law Reform Commission, Cllr. Deweh Gray said the forum is a collaborative effort of the Law Reform Commission, the Constitution Review Committee and the Governance Commission in providing women the opportunities to have their inputs in major decision-making process of the country.

Cllr. Deweh said the forum intends to enlighten the minds of various rights groups on issues of gender in the constitution to prepare them advocate for the rights of women.

"This process is aimed at getting the people voices as to what they need and what they believed should be placed in whatever review process that is going to be taken by the Constitution Review Committee," Cllr. Gray noted.

She said information gathered from the forum would be forwarded to the Constitution Review Committee for action.

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