Liberia: 'We Cannot Have a Senate Without Women'

Marie Gareth Nizigama, UN Women Liberia country: "UN Women has not given any money before and will not give money to any candidate or implementing partner."

UN Women pledges more support to female senatorial candidates

UN Women Liberia on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, held a virtual meeting with female candidates vying for seats in the upcoming December 8 senatorial elections, to clarify the support that the organization can provide to all female candidates.

Yesterday's meeting follows an earlier meeting convened by the national chapter of the Africa Women Leaders Network to showcase candidates who are vying for office and to provide a platform for them to solicit support.

From the several needs identified, UN Women committed to supporting all female candidates with 500 t-shirts and two megaphones per candidate. UN Women also vowed to provide platforms for all female candidates to share their manifestoes and campaign messages through various media platforms that include radio and social media.

UN Women will also work with a communications company to popularize key messages on the right of women to politically contest, vote, provide the facts on the status of women representation in the Senate, and of having a gender balance in the legislature.

The initiative is targeted at influencing positive behavior change and perception towards women's leadership and participation in elections.

Marie Gareth Nizigama, UN Women Liberia country representative, used the platform to clarify to all female candidates that UN Women will provide the same support to all female candidates without discrimination or preference.

She also clarified that UN Women has not given any money before and will not give money to any candidate or implementing partner, including the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to distribute to candidates vying for elected posts.

"In all its work of supporting women's political participation and supporting female candidates, UN Women is guided by the laws of the country and UN regulations," Ms. Nizigama emphasized.

The Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Alice Howard, urged all candidates to desist from spreading false information, but instead verify it before sharing it in the public domain to protect their image and that of other stakeholders.

Ambassador Marjon Kamara, Chairperson of the local chapter of the African Women Leadership Network, told female candidates who attended the virtual meeting that the road is not going to be easy, but urged them to fight for female representation in the Senate. Her sentiments were echoed by Ms. Nizigama who highlighted, "We cannot have a Senate without women. UN Women is committed to promoting the participation of women in elections for increased female representation in the Senate."

To ensure a free environment that is conducive for increased participation of women in elections and politics, UN Women supported the National Elections Commission to develop a protocol to address issues of violence against women in elections and politics.

Female candidates who attended the meeting were appreciative of the support and clarifications provided during the meeting. However, they noted that the support was not enough as most female candidates do not have 'free money' to distribute as is the case with their male counterparts.

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