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Liberian President urges ECOWAS Parliament to advance women’s course 

Adoba Echono

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Liberian President, George Weah, has appealed to the ECOWAS Parliament to adopt resolutions that will go a long way in advancing the empowerment of women in the region.

President Weah made the call in Monrovia, Liberia during the opening ceremony of the ECOWAS first delocalize meeting of the Joint Committee on Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment/Education, Science and Culture/Health on the theme, ‘Empowerment of Women in the ECOWAS Region.’

The President who was a former member of the Community Parliament said he was delighted in hosting the delocalize committee meetings of its standing committees in Monrovia, Liberia.

In his appeal to the Community Parliament members, President Weah said: “As many of you are aware, I am a former member of the ECOWAS Parliament while I represented Liberia as a seating Senator. I have fond memories of the time that I spent in Abuja doing the people’s work.

As I look around today, I see several old faces and new ones. I will like to welcome you all to Liberia and wish that your deliberations here will be fruitful.

“I am informed that your discussion is centered on the empowerment of women in the sub-region. This is a matter that is much close to my heart, as Liberia’s Feminist-In-Chief, I deeply delegated and promoted Liberian women in all aspects of our society but particularly in leadership.

“I pray that the resolutions that you will adopt here in this Joint-Committee sitting will go a long way to advance the course of women’s empowerment in our region. I want to say to you again, welcome.”

In his welcome address, Head of Liberia’s delegation to the Community Parliament, Senator Melvin Edwin Snowe, appreciated the ECOWAS Parliament for holding the meeting in his country, noting that President Weah from the onset was pleased to host the event in his country.

He described the Liberian President as a Women’s empowerment champion and welcomed the Community Parliamentarians and other dignitaries to the occasion.

In a remark, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Affairs, Republic of Liberia, Madam Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr, enumerated the progress and challenges facing her country including violence against women and girls, which noted her country was putting measures in place to tackle the menace.

She said stringent actions are needed to forestall this negative trend not only in her country but the sub-region.

The Chairperson of the Female Legislative Caucus of Liberia Dr. Rosanan Schaack, in her synopsis gave statistics and talked about low female participation in the Liberian Parliament, urging the Community Parliament to work the talk by ensuring the inclusion of more women among its ranks and member states.

 “With half of Liberia’s population being female, we need to increase the representation  of women where decisions are made,” she said.

Adding that, “women are still challenged with tradition and a culture of patriarchy, and a low level of support from other women to vote them into elected positions coupled with the challenge of economic constraints.”

In her statement, Liberia’s First Lady, Ambassador Clar Marie Weah commended the ECOWAS Parliament for convening the meeting at the appropriate time to fight the course of women.

Your deliberations, Honorable Members, could not have come at a more opportune time or your sitting take place in a more relevant location.

“However, despite the much-improved awareness of women’s worth in society, there is still a lot of work that remains undone, to ensure that women across the ECOWAS region are given the proper recognition that they require to engage and contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of our nations.”

 “The theme of empowerment of women in the ECOWAS region, speaks of coming together to agree on a common approach for ensuring that no girl or woman in our region feels abandoned or deprived of any opportunity by her gender.”

 “I am personally committed to seeing true empowerment for women in our region, across Africa and all over the world, and as I welcome you all to Liberia, I ask you all to truly commit to seeking actionable answers and plans to ensure that we begin the process of achieving the theme of the meeting here in Liberia,” according to the Liberian First Lady,

On his part, the Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Mohamed Sidie Tunis, underscored the need for thirty percent safe seats to be given to women as a giant first step.

 “The Supplementary Act on Equal Rights between Men and Women for Sustainable Development in the ECOWAS Region serves as a strong legal tool that can be used to champion women’s development. This instrument was adopted by the 47th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government held in Accra, Ghana, on the 19th May 2015.

 “With the excellent preparatory work that has been done and the high quality of the speakers, I do not doubt that this meeting will be a success.

“I already know that our deliberations will be rich and constructive. I shall be particularly attentive to the strategies that will be developed at this meeting to achieve our objectives,” Tunis said.

The Speaker House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia, Right Honorable Dr. Bhofal Chambers in his opening of the ceremony speech, highlighted the strides of the government of Liberia with the legislation of relevant laws but also underscored the need for more actions to be taken to achieve the set target of empowering women in the sub-region and wished the Community Parliament a wonderful deliberation.

Suzan O

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