The ascendency of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the pinnacle of political authority in Liberia gave many the impressions that women had finally been rescued from the marginalization they faced in the governance of the state, and to a larger extend, in leadership in the public-sphere.
Despite of the immense and uncontrollable power that Liberia and Africa first elected female head of state/president whirled here and across the globe, she was unable to achieve the passage of a “Legacy Legislation” that would have ensured that women have exclusive rights to 30 percent of the 103 seats at the National Legislature. The enactment of that legislation would have been the beginning of a bigger dream to catapult women into leadership positions across every sphere of the Liberian society.
But Madam Sirleaf’s inability to achieve this feat, inspite of her immense influence, might have been a setback to the feminist movement in the country. Despite this shortfall, which is being considered a missed opportunity for women, few of them are making frantic efforts to climb the political ladder on their own void of any legal backing or instrument.
One of such women is Madam Josephine Francis, the lone female candidate in the upcoming senatorial bi-elections in Montserrado County. The former governing Unity Party candidate is vigorous navigating way to the Liberian senate. She is one of seven candidates vying to fill the vacant seat left President George Manneh Weah.
The contest is a very tense one for her as she sits up there as one of two tipped to claimed victory at Tuesday’s polls. Her archrival is another popular candidate from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, Saah Joseph. Nevertheless, the UP candidate is galvanizing support from every sector of the society.
She was recently endorsed by the Liberty Party (LP) of Senator Nyonblee Karnga and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) of successful businessman, Alexander B. Cummings—two of the top leading political parties in the country who have a very strong support among thousands of conscious youth and older people in the county.
In addition to that, she currently has the support of the country’s feminist movement, whose stakeholders are endeavoring to ensure that women sit along men in discussing and implementing the governance of the state. “I’m the choice of the women of this county and they have resolved to vote me.
They see me as that strong lady who can replace Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor, another very strong woman, who is the current Vice President,” She disclosed that she has met with majority of the women group in soliciting their support—many, if not all of these meetings have been positive. “We are now in top gear in claiming this victory.
We have been giving the assurance that we will win. And victory is indeed ours,” she said. Madam Francis, who considers herself the most outstanding a formidable candidate, said Montserrado County, which is the political and economic seat of the country, has been underrepresented by the past 12 years. “Since 2006, we have had four senators in this great county and all of these have come from the CDC, but what do we have to show for the stewardship of the country? You and I know they got nothing to show.
This is a shame,” she said. She took a jab at the ruling party, which inspite of its cries that there is no money and that the country is broke, is fielding two sitting representatives in Bong and Montserrado Counties bi-elections. If these candidates are to emerge victorious there will be vacancies created additional two bi-elections.
Many of our women and young people are frustrated since the ascendency of the CDC administration because their expectations were very high and things seem not to be working in the right direction. She is a former representative of Montserrado County district #1 representative who was defeated at the 2017 presidential and representatives elections.
This has however created doubts in many people’s minds that if she could not retain a district seat, what assurance she has that she will win an entire county. But the UP candidate shrugged off those negative talks, noting, “I left my footprint in district #1, if not so I would not have been contesting the senatorial elections.” “My district, which is the largest in the country, got the highest number of schools and health, WASH facilities and other developmental initiatives during my reign.
People just should not sit and talk plenty, they need to do their research and will know the level of work in that district. We were not only waiting on government, we brought in partners who helped us to do many of what we did. Those people out there want to work with credible people.
They want to give their money to people who are trustworthy. And this is what we stand for. Before she could publicize her intention to contest, Madam Francis said that she held consultations with all 23 candidates who contested the district seat in last year’s elections.
“I consulted all of them and they embraced my idea and pledged to give me their support. It was based on outcomes of these consultations that I finally decided to contest because I got the support of my people,” she said.
Madam Francis said she is a team player and as such, if she emerges victorious, will lobby with colleagues in the upper house to establish instruments or initiatives that will build the capacities and ensure the empowerment of women, youth and others less fortunate group within the society. “I will be the voice of the voiceless this time on a bigger stage. Our people need better lives and these are the things we will be advocating for when we get in the senate,” she said.