President George Manneh Weah on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, turned another historical page in his presidential manifesto by conferring upon himself the enviable appellation of “Liberia’s Feminist-In-Chief.”
By the declaration, the President 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.”
“On the basis of that definition, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to declare myself as “Liberia’s feminist-in-chief, and hereby pledge to the women of Liberia that I will do all that I can, during my tenure as president of this country, to fight for gender equality and empowerment.”
President Weah also used the red-lettered women forum, the first to be held in Liberia, to catalogue efforts he personally initiated in the interest of Liberian women, giving them platform for participation in national leadership.
He referenced the selection of Madam Jewel Howard Taylor as his running mate on the ticket of the CDC, the appointment of several women to positions in government and many other actions to accentuate his advocacy for the advancement of women’s cause.
“When I was elected standard-bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change, the opportunity presented itself for me to demonstrate my commitment to the cause of advancement of women’s participation in leadership, and to practice what I preached. I therefore selected a female as my running-mate,” President Weah recalled.
The Liberian leader also recollected how he raised the bar for his party women to 50% even when the National Elections Commission (NEC) required each party to put up a minimum of 30% of women for parliamentary elections.
He declared: “Since my incumbency, I have appointed a woman to be the first female deputy Chief of staff of Armed Forces of Liberia, and there is a female who serves as Deputy Inspector General of the National Police. Similarly, I have appointed many women to ministerial positions and to boards of State-owned Enterprises and intend to appoint many more.”
He classified those actions as manifestations of his desire and advocacy for gender equality and of increasing women’s participation in governance in the country.
In spite of these efforts aimed at giving women desirable platform in national leadership, the President acknowledged that women still face a range of issues in Liberia that hold them back in society and make social equality a significant challenge.
“Of particular concern to me is sexual violence. During the Liberian civil conflict, there were widespread reports of sexual violence towards women. Today, more than 15 years after the war, Liberia continues to grapple with high incidence of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence against and girls,” the President indicated.
The International SHEROES Forum is being held in Liberia through the hospitality of the government, with Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor playing a leading role in the organization.
Dignitaries from Liberia and other parts of the African Continent are gracing this year’s event which is being held under the theme “ADVANCING WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN LEADERSHIP”.