Monrovia was on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 lighted with the presence of women of all walks of live from across Africa as well as men who believe in the values their female counterpart bring to life including Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah, Nigeria’s Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo. This was the venue of the Monrovia Sheroes conference held under the theme: ADVANCING WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN LEADERSHIP. Africa’s first female President and former President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Dr. Joice Mujuru, Former Vice President of Zimbabwe and the former President of Malawi, Mrs. Joyce Hilda Banda graced the occasion
Speaking at the colorful ceremony, Liberia’s first female Vice President Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor reminded fellow women to 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.”
“We must take cognizance of the fact that we live in a world wherein our hopes and aspirations are intertwined, and so the only way we can achieve our collective goals is to work together in unison. We must remove our eyes from the impossibilities and the things that so easily tear us apart and run the race knowing that we succeed or fail together,” she stressed.
Chief Dr. Howard-Taylor emitted the mixed feeling of being very happy on one hand for an opportunity for women to meet again in one place; and on the other hand saddened and burdened by the very low representation of women the world over, and Africa in particular.
She maintained that although Liberia has been the first in many areas, such as sending the first female President to the United Nations General Assembly, in the person of the late Mrs. Angie Brooks Randolph; the first African Nation to democratically elect the first female President in Africa, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; and the First Nation to elect the World’s best Footballer as President, a record not yet broken, it must be stated that on the eve of this historic FORUM, the number of Female Representation across our Continent is low for many reasons. And so the Conference Theme: Advancing Women’s Participation In Leadership is very timely.
Vice President Howard-Taylor reminded her audience that “the empowered woman is powerful beyond measure and beautiful beyond description”.
Also speaking, President George Manneh Weah declared himself “Liberia’s Feminist-In-Chief.”
By the declaration, the Liberian leader reaffirms unwavering commitment to the pursuit of the feministic ideals that guarantee the rights and wellbeing of women.
“In closing, allow me to share a story with you. During a discussion about this conference that I had a few days ago, one of my colleagues “accused” me of being a feminist, under the wrong impression that only women can be feminist,” President told the gathering at the opening of the International SHEROES Forum at the Monrovia City Hall
Besides the argument he said ensued between him and his friend, the decision is informed by the broad understanding of who a feminist is: “someone who organizes activities on behalf of women’s rights and interests, with the objective of achieving political, economic and social equality of sexes, including seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.”