Even the fiercest critics of Liberia’s first female Vice President, Chief Dr. Jewel Cianeh Howard-Taylor knows that the only crime she ever committed in her eventful life is the decision to marry former President Charles Taylor – not even the Truth and Reconciliation Commission could point to a single wrong she has ever done. In spite of all, she has successfully pulled herself by the bootstrap.
She would be called all sorts of names and bullied for being herself and believing in her God given abilities by refusing to be subjected to the whips of those who think she should bury her head in the sand.
The steady manner in which the daughter of Bong County has kept afloat amid these nerve-wracking happenings sends a shock down the spine of gloomy Gus. Hence, they have given themselves a task to go at every length to tear her down even if it means doing so physically.
“The first thing I’ve done is to believe that I am able to make the changes I talk about,” Vice President Howard-Taylor says.
Serving the people of her native land, Bong County, as Senator for two terms before becoming Vice President on the collaborative ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Madam Howard-Taylor says being an excess baggage to her boss President George Manneh Weah is not an option –she got her sleeves rolled up to work with the Liberian leader to ensure that the aspirations of the Liberian people are met.
“I want to make a mark and send a message to fellow women across the world that regardless of where they are placed in male dominated societies, they can make your presence felt,” she indicated.
Vice President Howard-Taylor nipped it in the bud recently at the SHEROES event in Monrovia that women should transcend the attitude of shying away from challenges that affect them and “be bold and fearless in tackling the stringent issues of “dwindling representation, lack of resources and opportunities, sexual and gender based violence, high maternal mortality rates, and the lack of coordination, collaboration and cooperation amongst women.”
During the 2017 campaign period, it was touted that America would not do business with the CDC led government because then Senator Howard-Taylor was blacklisted by the United States Government. As the reality set in that she would become the first female Vice President against cynics’ wish, the narrative changed that the “blacklisted” woman was given audience by the US State Department to discuss ways the United States government would help in securing jailed former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s release from prison in the United Kingdom. The fact that the US Government could give a “blacklisted” woman audience to talk about such sensitive issue leaves much to desire as regards truthfulness of the assertion.
Less than eleven (11) months of the CDC led administration, Vice President Howard-Taylor has already carved her niche with the support of her boss, Dr. George M. Weah by breaking the curse of vice presidents being “old cars parked in the garage” that act at the dictates of the mechanics but would never espouse innovative approaches to become impactful.
Politically, she is not a weakling. Her presence on the CDC ticket during 2017 polls saw the party winning 40.6% of the votes in Bong County during the first round- far more than the 10.7% CDC got in previous presidential election. In the second round, Weah received about 70 percent of the vote.
Howard Taylor has repeatedly praised President Weah, insisting that each of them had complementary characters and skills.
“There is no better way to put it than admitting to the reality that Cianeh, as we used to call her, is the ‘Jewel of Liberia’; not just in the crown of President Weah. She brings to the table what previous vice presidents lacked. She knows her bounds as the second person to her boss and she is making use of those areas that fall within her limit for the maximum good of the government’s service delivery to the people of Liberia,” oldman Yarkpawolo said with beaming smile.
He said from time immemorial, vice presidents would also sit and fold their arms and wait for the president to give instruction but this lady has changed the trajectory that being second does not mean you cannot make impact while at the same time taking cognizance of your limits.
Recently, oldman Yarkpawolo said Vice President Howard-Taylor took the “Jewel Starfish Foundation”- an initiative she has been sponsoring from her purse, out of her office in order for girls across Liberia to be given an opportunity to acquire quality education. This, he said, is in line with the government’s overarching objective regarding education under the pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development.
The emotional bullying that this woman has ensured over the years, according to student Kou Anderson, is a virtue that women across the world should emulate because “it is not easy for a lady go through all these things and receive rains of insults and denigrating comments, sometimes, from her gender group.”
Kou intimated “it is only a jewel that would go through the furnace and still shine. So, it is fair to say that she is truly the jewel of Liberia.”