Monrovia – As the 2017 October elections gets nearer, the UN Women in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection has ended a workshop for more than 50 female candidates for an intensive political capacity building training intended to help deepen their understandings of politics and to bring them on par with men.
The three days event was intended to enable them to participate in debates, face their districts using the media and other platforms, respond to issues arising from opposite sex and strategies for the upcoming campaign among others.
During the training, women were trained on how to engage the people they are seeking to represent.
The head of the Election Coordinating Committee (ECC), Oscar Bloh serving as facilitator during the training encouraged female candidates to not be intimidated by their male counterparts.
Bloh told his female participants from around the country to be focus on the core issues and convince the electorates what they (female Candidates) can do for people and not to get involved in negative propaganda.
“You need to tell the people why you want them vote for you and stop the normal politics of attacking people for no reason, avoid calling the names of your incumbent and tell them what you can do for them,” he told them.
Another female facilitator, Madam Ruth Caesar called on the female candidates to not be carried away by what the media say about them.
“The media will provoke you and ask you all kinds of questions but don’t be carried away from the issues, always know what you want and tell the people what you will do for them, don’t establish enemyship for yourself,” she encouraged.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made a brief stop at the training and encouraged the women to do better and take over the capitol building if they cannot take the presidency.
She encouraged the women to not see those in their way as enemies but rather see them as stepping stone to get to where they want to get.
“Do not see every stone on your way as enemies, I want you see them as a stepping stone to get to where you want to get,” she encouraged them.
The women were very excited about the training especially the first time contesters and called on the supporting institutions to continue the capacity building of Liberian female politicians, which will help to empower them politically. The program was held under the theme “Politics is Women Business Too,” winning campaign strategies for women candidates.
Tenneh Dalieh, National Program Officer for Gender Equality and Human Security at the Swedish Embassy in Monrovia, said the Swedish government cooperation in collaboration with Liberia has contributed to a range of women's empowerment initiatives and increased progress towards gender equality in the country.
Madam Dalieh who said women in Liberian politics and women in politics around the world face a range of obstacles related to gender, encouraged the women to fully participate in the process.
She said, "We are always inspired by the women who overcome these obstacles and become transformative leaders in the communities, at the national and international levels. Having attended numerous programs involving women's political empowerment, we have witnessed the strength and tenacity that Liberian women possess."
She lauded the women for joining other women around the world in politics and called on them to take advantage of every opportunity that will ensure victories for them.
"We know that your journey has met many bumps in the road, and that you will continue to encounter and overcome challenges throughout your sojourn. The embassy encourages equal participation of women in the political governance process of their country. This is reflected in the Swedish feministic policy," she said.
According to her, the embassy hopes that the training will contribute to the technical capacity to conduct competitive, well-resourced and innovative campaigns and leadership contests.
“We Hope that you can effectively use the skills that have been acquired to mobilize resources, to build stronger networks, communicate effective messages and to persuade others that they are capable and effective leaders. By doing so, we are confident that you will make a prepared candidate for the upcoming October elections, “she said.
She said the Swedish embassy has seen some of the materials especially the factsheets on women in leadership in Liberia and remains confident that they will utilize it to challenge the myths and negative stereotypes and attitudes towards women's leadership and to persuade people of the value of women's political participation.
She expressed her gratitude to the UN Women, the Ministry of gender, children and social protection, the national women political forum for organizing such an impactful training that empowers female Liberian politicians.