For vetoing the New Elections Law, AFELL expresses Disappointment in Pres. Weah

By Augusta S. Lafalay

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The Association of Female lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) has expressed disappointment in President George Manneh Weah for vetoing the New Elections Law, section 4.5 30% Affirmative Gender Representation.

Speaking recently at the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) Annual Assembly, AFELL President, Atty. Philomena T. Williams, said the veto of the 30% Women Representation Law does not reflect the terminology of Feminist in Chief or He for she, which contradicts his title – Feminist in Chief of Liberia.

Madam Williams said if the Liberian President had signed the New Elections Law, which calls for 30% Affirmative Gender Representation for women, then it would not have delayed his veto statements, asserting that the present cause of delays in the elections processes are due to multiplicity of reasons.

“Our Chief Feminist’s reason for the veto is that the country is just seven months away to the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections, as such, certain changes in the elections law at a time so close would tend to send mixed signals to the electorates and present the potential to cause delays in elections processes,” Atty. Williams said.

She emphasized that AFELL operations have been set back and wants President Weah to rationalize the gigantic inequality gap of women in politics and leadership in Liberia and the need for complimentary laws that mirror and are in consonance with the constitution.

Madam Williams furthered recommended to the Office of the Liberian Chief Executive for a female legal advisor on women and children matters to enhance and positively address women and children empowerment.

Making comparison of our neighboring country- Sierra Leone in tackling gender inequality President Julius Maada Bio signed similar law of 30% quota Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act, which refers to as a landmark legislation and victory for women.

The President signed the 30% quota affirmative act in January 2023, as close as five months to the general elections scheduled to be held in June 2023. According to Sierra Leone President, men yet to see or acknowledge women rightful position fully, and this law will give them the tools to correct that.

Furthermore, AFELL with a big smile congratulated their sisters/ the women of Sierra Leone for a milestone achievement against disproportionate representation of employment in politics and leadership.

Cognizant of the Constitutional provision under Chapter 111, Article 18, which states, “All Liberian citizens shall have equal opportunity for work and employment regardless of sex, creed, religion, ethnic background, place of origin or political affiliation, and all shall be entitled to equal pay for equal work.’’

Looking at Liberia De facto population announced by Lawrence George, Acting Director, LISGIS on Census Night, 10/11/202 – female population accounts for 49.6%. Statistic also reflects that gender inequality cuts over all circles of life in Liberia and women are disproportionately represented in all areas of employment in politics and leadership.

Also the constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone, specific to employment rights Section 8 (3) (a) states that, “the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that – every citizen, without discrimination on any grounds whatsoever, shall have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunities to secure suitable employment.’’

Meanwhile, AFELL has appreciated the outgoing United States Ambassador Michael McCarthy for promoting human rights and endeavoring to end violence against women and children in Liberia, hoping that his successor Mark Christopher Toner will walk the path of goodwill.

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