By: Stephen G. Fellajuah
Ahead of the upcoming presidential and legislative elections, the Eminent Women of the Women’s Situation Room (WSR) on Thursday released a comprehensive report on the peace, security and election of Liberia, at which time the women described electoral violence against them as death threats, not a scare tactics.
The report outlined and highlighted the unsafe environment for women in political activities, insecurity, influx of narcotic drugs, abuse of tradition in politics among others.
“Electoral violence against women is a death threat, not a scare tactics. We have witnessed this from the bloody altercation with machetes, stones and other weapons against the representative candidate Cornelia Kruah-Tokpa to the putting of gas around the house of representative candidate Telia Urey was in and lighting a fire to burn her alive.
We also witnessed the hunting of Botoe Kanneh with guns like a deer in the forest. The perpetration of these acts of violence intended to have them killed.’’ The report stated.”
According to the Eminent Women, based on the 18 months project which was implemented by the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC), in partnership with ZOA-Liberia with support from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, 20 pilot communities in Bong County and Montserrado benefited training in different sectors of peace making processes as 2023 elections draws nearer .
The mandate of the project was strategic interventions to enhance women’s capacity and agency within political, civic and mediation space following the December 2020 mild-term senatorial elections and the constitutional referendum, and at the same time working towards the 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
The initiative is a flagship program of the ‘’ Women’s Situation Room (WSR) under the project title ‘’ sustainable and inclusive peace in Liberia through promoting women leadership and participation in civic and [political life and their strengthened role in conflict resolution’’.
Reading the report at a local hotel in Monrovia Thursday August 25, 2022, the Establishment Coordinator of the ABIC, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh said that they commenced the project with one goal in mind to put the interest of the peace in the 20 communities above all else.
She noted that this mantra ensured the project gained the requisite local support from leaders all the way to the ordinary residents because the issues it brought to bear was and still is a timely one.
“ABIC trained 400 women and youth training of trainers in mediation, conflict resolution and negotiation; convened 10 women-led mediation dialogue for under the broad themes of electoral violence, monetization of elections, abuse and politicization of traditional norms and value, polarization of the media, understanding the democratic ideology of election and abuse of narcotics as a national emergency issues”, she further said.
Continuing, Dr. Chesson-Wureh said they also worked with hundreds of community-based intervention through peer to peer peace engagement and the novel WSR Mediation Mobile Clinic; peace march with more than 2,000 women to demand and create their own visible seats at the decision making table and the lead from where you sit series of training activities by the WSR eminent women.
According to Cllr. Chesson- Wureh, created of the WSR, these extensive engagements have generated very significant early warning signs of violence which need continuous intervention through multi-stakeholder concerted effort to ensure peace before, during and after the 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
The ABIC boss indicated that based upon that matter of the fragility of the safety and security issues brooding from the communities all the way up to the national level, the eminent women of the WSR are registering their strong and unqualified opposition to election violence, and insecurity in the country.
“Violence against women in elections-access to peaceful participation of women of diverse occupation in elections keeps dwindling. Women participate in elections as aspirants, candidates, voters, security officers, election commission officers, political party supporters, polling center agent, media personnel and floating voters.”
These different levels of political participation, according to Madam Chesson-Wureh, come with different level of violence targeted at women in elections ranging from gender and sexual based violence, verbal abuse physical violence, to emotional and psychological abuse.
Speaking further she lamented that in this age of the internet and social media, there are online harassments, fake news and misinformation, adding that when the political atmosphere continues to give rise to the unfavorable conditions for women to take part in elections, it is simply an affront to their constitutional right to freedom of association in a manner that grossly undermine the core of our democracy, she emphasized the report further.