To help address the limited participation of women in governance and in the Legislature, Naymote Partners for Democratic Development conducted a weeklong training for 100 women contestants and their campaign managers from across the 15 counties at the Development Education Network (DEN-L), in Gbarnga, Bong County, from April 11-16, 2017.
Participants were drilled on political campaign straegies and techniques, the definition and importance of political campaign, the three important campaign resources, as well as the seven major steps in planning a political campaign. They were taught about the roles and qualities of political campaign volunteer, and how to use the election statistics to target number of voters and determine the number of campaign volunteers required per electoral districts.
Other aspects of the training exercise included about campaign communications, public speaking, message development and the candidate nomination process with the NEC.
At the end of the five days, participants developed micro political campaign plans with budget as well as participated in mock campaign events.
“Promoting women’s participation in governance and nation building is central to UNMIL’s mandate, and so the UN Mission in Liberia is partnering with national stakeholders like NAYMOTE to move the gender agenda to the forefront of civil society engagement,” Mr. Francis Kaikia, head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia delegation at the official opening session of the training program stated.
He said this can be done through the empowerment of women, to break out of their traditional roles which, of course, are also critical and contribute to nation building. “Women must start contributing to the politics, economy and socio-cultural transformation of the country,” Kai-kai emphasized, describing the training organized by NAYMOTE as an “important activity that is germane to the development of Liberia’s democratic governance.”
The Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy in Liberia, Mr. Samuel Watson, said women need to build strong network and develop allies, including men for equality. He said the United States has been a proud partner in the effort to build a strong network of politically engaged women in Liberia and in the world. Mr. Watson wants Liberian women to be persistent and inclusive in their push for equality if they must succeed in their quest of gaining a considerable space in the governance system of the country.
Other speakers at the event included the Co-Chair of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Sarah Toe; the Executive Director of DEN-L, Dorothy Toomann; the Director of Political Affairs at the NEC, Joseph Yarsiah; the Inspector General of Police Gregory Coleman, among others.
NAYMOTE’S Executive Director Eddie D. Jarwolo said the training is meant to help the women understand how to win elections based on issues, and also learn about Liberia’s political system, political campaign strategies, and grassroots mobilization among others. He thanked UNMIL for the financial assistance and donated L$500,000.00 to support the activities of the Coalition of Political Parties Women in Liberia (COPPWIL).
Mr. Jarwolo said for too long the country has remained underdeveloped as the result of women’s underrepresentation in the legislature where major laws governing the country are made. He said poor representation and oversight continue to hinder progress in the country, and as a result citizens have lost trust in Governance.
Mr. Jarwolo said the L$500,000.00 was intended to stage citizens’ engagement events across the country aimed at finding out the issues that are most important to voters, as well as organize mock campaign events for graduates of the training to improve their public speaking skills before the actual campaign period for October elections.
He said his institution is working with COPPWIL to setup a National Women Campaign Coordinating Team, which will be responsible for directing and supporting all women candidates’ campaign process across party lines during the elections period. Mr. Jarwolo said he is very passionate and look forward to working with women across borders and working with the National Women Campaign Coordinating Team, to get women working together and getting more women in the Legislature for the good of the country.
Mr. Jarwolo said feedback from those women who benefitted from the trainings remain positive as most of them are now using the skills and knowledge to engage the communities by visitations, telling their stories, using community radio to engage the citizens, and working hard to win seats on the political party tickets.
The training was facilitated by Oscar Bloh, Chairman of the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC); Mr. S. Tornorlah Varpilah, Political Strategist and Gender Expert; and Joseph Yarsiah, Director of Political Affairs of the National Elections Commission.