Liberia: Women Don't Need Exclusive Seats

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor is lead campaigner for the affirmative action bill at the legislature that seeks 15 seats exclusively for women. We don't think such law is necessary. Elected posts are for public service and the best way to ascend there is thru competitive contest, rather than creating allowance for one sex.

The preponderant of this bill, Veep Taylor, is a former senator, who served twice in the Liberian Senate up to her selection by Congress for Democratic Change Standard Bearer George Manneh Weah as running mate for the presidency during the 2017 elections, which they won on a Coalition ticket.

Madam Taylor contested for the senate in Bong County and won twice in a male-dominated race. Even President George Weah's predecessor Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the presidency in 2005 against nearly two dozen male-dominated candidates. Both women leaders enjoyed no special privilege in politics.

At a recent retreat with the legislature, President George Manneh Weah submitted eight propositions to amend certain sections of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, including Article 80 to create additional seats in the House of Representatives to be contested exclusively by women.

So, why now the advocacy for exclusive allocation for women? What is the beauty of going into a competition when seats are already reserved for a particular sex whether it is merited or not?

We applaud the Liberian Senate for overwhelmingly voting against the so-called affirmative action bill that seeks 15 additional seats to be contested exclusively by women.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie notes that while the currently male-dominated Liberian Senate generally believes in affirmative action, unanimous opinion is that allotment of 15 senatorial seats exclusively for women is not an appropriate remedy to empowering women politically, especially, in the face of prevailing economic constraints.

The government wage bill is overstretched currently, with monthly salary payment for employees seems nearly impossible, as even legislators at the Capitol are in arrears for two to three months.

Creating 15 additional seats exclusively for women would take the legislature from 103 lawmakers (30 Senators and 73 Representatives) to 118, which means appropriating additional budgetary allocations for salaries, incentives and benefits, among others.

The cry of the Liberian people is not underrepresentation but lack of sincere and committed leadership to prioritize their welfare.

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