By Tina S. Mehnpaine
MacDella Cooper, political leader, Movement for One Liberia
Although the bill seeking to allot 30 percent representation of women in the Legislature is yet to find its space for passage, MacDella Cooper, political leader of the Movement for One Liberia (MOL), says instead of allotting 30 percent to women in the Legislature, there is a need to have 50 seats for them in both the upper and lower houses.
“We’ve got to focus on balancing the equation and then we can start pulling those who are not ready,” she said.
According to her, when men decide to run for an elected position no one knows whether they are competent or not, but when it is a woman running, that is when the conversation about competency comes up. “It’s biased. I don’t play in it and I won’t tolerate it.”
Serving as a guest on the Truth Breakfast Show, Truth FM 96.1, Madam Cooper maintained that if people must continue the conversation about women’s competency, then it is time to start identifying incompetent men who are leading this country.
The female politician argued that, though there is no provision in the constitution that sets educational qualifications for people vying for an elected seat, a legislator or senator must be one who knows how to interpret the laws and push for bills that will positively affect their constituents.
She notes that it is against this backdrop that some people view women as incompetent. Nevertheless, she said the narrative has changed with female legislators speaking out nowadays and challenging their male counterparts in legislative arguments.
According to her, Liberia is now 173 years old and out of the number, men have ruled for 161 years while women have ruled for only 12 years. Throughout the men’s regime, the conversation about competency never came up, she said. “My top priority is creating a balanced equation,” Cooper added.
Madam Cooper, whose opinion only reflects giving 50 seats to women in both the upper and lower houses, did not take into consideration the two terms of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that saw more women in top government positions and the worst corruption reports coming therefrom. According to her, women are deemed less corrupt; moreover, they make decisions based on the needs of their families.
Madam Cooper disclosed that it is because of this gap that international partners have not increased their funding for Liberia, even though she did not pinpoint any instance where the international community has said it was reducing its support due to the lack of more women in government in Liberia. “Look at countries that have included women. Economically, they are doing a lot better. We are leaving trillions of dollars on the negotiation table because we don’t have women occupying seats”.
The December 8 senatorial elections and the Referendum saw escalated violence against women in part, with Senator Botoe Kanneh of Garpolu County intimidated by the country devil and some of her supporters raped. According to Madam Cooper, these acts were meant to scare women away from participating in elections.
She said the gathering of women of Liberia at Fishmarket in Sinkor recently was to demonstrate their solidarity and to give their financial support to Senator Kanneh’s victory, and they have also decided to work collectively to support every female candidate.
Source Daily Observer.