Articles (20)

Liberia: Inadequate Support to the Disabled Hampered Livelihood

Written by: Akiah P. Glay. Dormoh

August 7, 2023, 2023



For ages, the quality of life for people living with disabilities has been negatively impacted by a combination of societal attitudes, limited accessibility, inadequate educational structures, and system. poverty. And living in Liberia, whose economy is still struggling to recover from the effects of the Ebola and COVID-19 pandemic, access to basic life necessities like education, healthcare, and economic empowerment for persons living with disabilities has become even more cumbersome.

Globally, an estimated 1.3 billion people, or 16% according to the World Health Organization (WHO) experience a significant disability. The WHO Global Report[1] on health equity for persons with disabilities demonstrates that while some progress has been made in recent years, the world is still far from realizing this right for many persons with disabilities who continue to die earlier, have poorer health, and experience more limitations in everyday functioning than others. And in  Africa, according to World Bank data, approximately 80 million[2] people are living with a disability.

Sadly, in Liberia, current and accurate data on disability is unknown. Nevertheless, Population Services International believes that the war may have contributed to the increase of disability in Liberia from an initially reported 16% in 1997[3] to nearly 20%, which is significantly higher than the world’s average of 10%[4]. According to HOPE, a group whose mandate is to provide vital support for children who have lost their limbs through war, accidents, and lack of access to medical care, about 99%[5] of people with disabilities live in extreme poverty compared to 48% of the population, and only one-third 1/3 of school-age disability children are enrolled in school. This means people living with disabilities in Liberia are at a heightened vulnerability of legal and economic inequalities, abuse, and human rights violations which increases their risk of living in extreme poverty. The article calls for the promotion, accessibility, and inclusion of persons with disability in all areas of society in Liberia including education, employment, public spaces, and healthcare. It highlights the importance of removing physical and attitudinal barriers that hinders the full participation of individuals with a disability. This includes providing reasonable accommodations, ensuring equal access to information, and services, and fostering an inclusive environment that values diversity.

Disability in Context:

Disability is a complex concept that can be defined and understood in various ways depending on the context and perspective. While the definition may seem similar, the Medical Model of Disability defines it as an impairment or conduction that limits an individual’s physical, sensory, cognitive, or mental abilities. According to the model, disability is seen as a personal problem that needs to be diagnosed, treated, or cured discretely. There are various types of disability in Liberia ranging from speech impairment to mental inability. Due to a lack of data on disabilities, it is difficult to mention accurately all forms of disabilities. The 2008 National census indicated the different kinds of disabilities in Liberia, including persons with limited use of legs and arms or amputees, hearing, sight, and speech difficulty, persons with mental retardation, and persons with multiple disabilities[6]. In the years since the end of the war in 2003, Liberia has taken steps towards ensuring disabilities population is recognized, but numerous challenges still remain. In 2005, the National Commission on Disabilities was established and the 2018[7] National Action Plan for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities was also adopted for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. The goal of the plan is to promote the welfare and rights of the disabled in Liberia, while also aiming to include them in the governance process and provide financial assistance through social security. These fine-drafted policies and institutions will continue to encounter challenges if deliberate efforts are not made to promote education and eliminate poor standards of living among disabled people in Liberia. 

Though persons living with disabilities could be classified as male or female, in many cases, it is appropriate to disaggregate women, men, and persons living with disabilities data in order to understand and address their specific needs. For instance, women may experience gender-based discrimination and inequality, as such unequal pay, limited access to education, and gender-based violence. On the other hand, persons living with disabilities may face barriers related to accessibility, discrimination in employment, or limited access to healthcare.  Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between recognizing the specific needs and experiences of different groups while also acknowledging the potential intersections of identities and the challenges faced by individuals who belong to multiple marginalized groups. It helps to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive approach to addressing inequalities and promoting social justice.


First and foremost, the lack of accurate and up-to-date data on disability could affect capacity building, policy development and implementation, awareness and advocacy, and a lot more. Without accurate data, it becomes difficult for governments and organizations to allocate resources effectively. Funding and support may not be allocated in proportion to the actual number and specific needs of individuals with disability resulting in limited access to essential services, such as healthcare, employment, and social support[8]. Funding allotted to disability does not seem to produce a better outcome as persons with a disability still find it difficult to integrate into society[9].

Support to persons living with disability in two years 2022-2023


support to NCD

Support under the office of the Vice President (Group of 77

Education Sector (Liberia School of the Blind)

Youth and Sport (Deaf & Dumb Alethic Association



$629 098

$423 727

$50 000

$2 000

$1 104 825


$555 897

$413 727

$50 000

$2 000

$1 021 624

Support from the national government to education for persons living with disability is limited as seen in the table above. The evaluation of the Liberia National Action Plan 2018-2022, undertaken in tandem with the development of the next disability inclusion plan NAP 2023 – 2027, with support from UNDP, found that disabilities livelihood has seen very little improvement; and it can be contributed lack of political will, a systemic belief that disability is a low priority issue, and lack of accountability is grossly undermining the rights, wellbeing, and inclusion of people with disabilities[10] financial allotment from the government to disabilities organizations clearly show the lack of interest exerted.

The 2022 and 2023 fiscal year budget shows US$ 50.000 to support education for the blind. That amount divided by fifteen counties will mean, each county will receive US% 3,333 annually for education, which is relatively nothing. Not to mention the US$ 2,000 that is allotted for sports. There are numerous constraints amongst persons living with disability in Liberia that need to be addressed. In employment, persons with disability are barely spotted, and income-generating opportunities are limited. Most of them have limited vocational training skills because of the lack of educational opportunities.  Also, many public infrastructures and facilities in Liberia, such as transportation, buildings, and public spaces, lack adequate accommodation for disabled people.  A Report of Community-Based Emancipatory Disability Research (CB-EDR) 2018- done by AIFO expresses the many challenges encountered by persons with disabilities. The report acknowledges that there exist barriers to educational opportunities for persons with disability.  According to the report, in Grand Gedeh County, out of 600 disabled children, only 10 were in school, and in Nimba, out of 22 visual impair persons, only 2 had had higher education while the remaining 20 had no education. Aside from educational opportunity, Issues related to lack of livelihood opportunities and widespread poverty was key component found in the report[11]. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, and Pro-Poor Government Agenda pillar 5 that promotes inclusion and the NCD Act of Liberia, there should be a national momentum to ensure that marginalized groups, not least people with disabilities, are included, and accounted for in the mainstream development efforts in Liberia. Policies are not enough, enforcement and implementation of the policies and the government’s willingness to vigorously engaged and address issues relating to disabilities will to some extent elevate disabled people from poverty. This will require robust evidence on both the current situation of people with disabilities and the effectiveness of various approaches to support inclusion. It is visible that other countries including South Africa are initiating policies to promote employment opportunities for the disabled such as its 1998 Employment Equity Act and its Skill Development Act that recognizes

people with disabilities as one of the target groups for the purposes of skills development and advancement in the workplace. Also, the implementation of the 2011 Sierra Leone Disability Act led to the recruitment of four (4) police officers to work in the communication center. This is a great lesson and Liberia must learn and enhance the livelihood of persons with disability.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The government needs to conduct regular surveys, studies, or data to ensure the information on persons with disabilities remains up to date in order to be informed on how to tailor programs and services for persons with disability. Also, the governments shall create policies and initiatives that promote the employment of persons with disabilities. This may include setting quotas for disability representation in the workforce and providing incentives to employers who hire persons with disabilities. Finally, the government needs to allocate adequate financial resources to support programs and services to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. This includes funding for inclusive education, vocational training, assistive technologies, and other support services. In conclusion, promoting equality for disabled individuals is a fundamental aspect of a just and inclusive society. identifying and treating disability issues discreetly is a way to challenge societal biases and stereotypes associated with disabilities. It encourages a shift in focus from the disability itself to the abilities and potential of each person. By emphasizing equality, we can create an environment that embraces diversity and provides equal opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their abilities.


[1] Kamenov. D; Barrett, D; Pearce, E; et al (2022); Global Report on Health Equity for Persons with Disability (World Health Organization; (P; 16) retrieved July 17, 2023

[2] The World Bank: “ Challenges Facing Persons with Disabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa-in 5 Charts (Retrieved 17/07/23):

[3]   Azubike C Onuora-Oguno: “African Disability Right Year Book: (retrieved July 18, 2023) 

[4] Building Market “Changing Liberian Attitude Towards the Disabled (2013) Retrieved (July 18, 2023):

[5] Elizabeth’s Legacy of HOPE: Some Facts about Liberia (Retrieved July 18, 2023)

[6] Deepak, Sunil (2021) “Barriers Faced by Persons Living with Disabilities in Liberia Report of a Community-Based Emancipatory Disabilities Research (CB-EDR 2018-2019): Retrieved july, 2023:

[7] The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) 2018-2022 National Action Plan for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Liberia

[8] Liberia National Budget Fiscal Year 2022  (P: 321; 103; 314; 301) file:///C:/Users/Admin/Downloads/BudgetBook2022%20_V2%20(4).pdf

[9] Disability and Poverty in Liberia (October 2021) Retrieved, July 18, 2023:


[11] AIFO Report of a Community-Based Emancipatory Disability Research (CB-EDR) “Barrier Faced by Persons Living with Disabilities in Liberia-2018-2021:

By Gabiel Sawah


Education, health, and sports top the priority projects to be implemented with funding from the County Development Fund (CDF) for Rivercess County. In a resolution at the 2023 county sitting, about 18.4% of the fund was allotted to health, and 23.25% to education. This means 41.65% of US$ 200.000, the total amount disbursed to the County as County Development Fund (CDF) was allotted to education and health. Also, complying with the 2018 Local Government Act that promotes decentralization and the establishment of the County Council, nine persons were inducted into office as County Council members to provide supervision and oversight on funds allocated for county development. Those inducted into office included women, youth chiefs, elders, and persons living with a disability.

Citizen-driven projects have been a major concern for ordinary citizens in the county, including, the media, and local and national civil society organizations.  During the 7th County Sitting in Rivercess County, US$141,000.00 was allotted to the reconstruction of Commissioners’ compounds. Also, earlier this year, the County Received US$636,385.08 or L$99,267,074.81 as County Social Development fund (CSDF) arrears. Of that amount, over 51% (i.e. $327,041.08 ) was allocated to building, renovating, and reconstructing commissioner’s offices, and superintendent residences, and purchasing motorbikes for county officials.  Thankfully, the July 2023 allotment has prioritized citizens to a larger extent.

During the just-ended July 2023 Special County  Development Council Sitting for the appropriation of  US$ 200,000.00 received from the government as the 2023 County. 

Development Fund(CDF), the county allocated US$ 31,500.00 to construct an Elementary and Junior High School in Samgbalor Administrative District,  US$ 29,800.00 for the construction of an Operational Theater at the Boegeezay Health Center in Morweh Statutory District, and US$ 28,000.00 for the construction of players and referees dressing rooms and Bathrooms at Darsaw Town Sports Pitch. Also, US$ 4,500 was allocated for the completion of the Darsaw Town Elementary School Annex in Zarflahn Administrative District. Delegates also allocated US$ 21,500 to rehabilitate the 44-kilometer road from Yarpah Town to Garpu Town and US$ 7,000.00 was allotted for the Renovation of the Gblorseo Town Community Clinic in Nywoine Administrative District.  

In Central River Cess Administrative District, the county allotted US$ 5,000.00 for the replacement of the entire roof of the Zammine Town Elementary School. In addition to education, delegates allotted US$ 3,000 to subsidize the River Cess University Student Union (RUSU) tuition and US$ 2,500 as a stipend for volunteer teachers at the Cestos High School. Basic infrastructure received US$ 134,400.00, constituting 67.2%, and subsidy provided to over seven institutions and local administration was allotted US$ 36,800 thus, constituting 18.4%. While US$ 180,000 was allocated for activities and projects, US$ 5,300 was for liability, and US$ 20,000 was for Administrative and Operational Costs. Also, in compliance with the Local Government Act 2018, a County Council sitting was held and nine persons were sworn into office to supervise and provide oversight on developments in the county.

As part of efforts to curb abuse and mismanagement of public resources, and ensure accountability and impact-driven citizens-led development in the county, members of the council were selected from diverse sectors in the county including, the youth, women, persons living with disability, women, chief and Elder.

As a leading civil society voice promoting transparency and accountability in Liberia, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) was represented at the sitting in a bid to contribute to the promotion of transparency and the equal participation of citizens of diverse backgrounds. Through its Open Expenditure Initiative (OEI) activities, CENTAL has educated and trained county officials and ordinary citizens about development funds and encouraged them to ensure transparency, accountability, and citizens’ equal participation in all implementation.

Citizens Accuse Health Facility of Charging Higher Fees for Newborn Boys

By: Akiah P. Glay Dormoh

In Grand Bassa County, the Gorblee Health Center, a government hospital stands accused of charging fees according to the sex of a newborn child. It is well-known that resources allotted to hospitals are stretched thin. Nonetheless, the disparity in fee payment has considerably raised eyebrows.

In Gaye Peter Town, Compound #3, Grand Bassa County, citizens did not only accuse the facility of charging excessively when pregnant women go to the hospital to give birth, they also laid a charge that the amount the facility collects after the delivery of a boy differs from that which is charged for the delivery of a girl. Citizens have told CENTAL that Five Thousand Liberian Dollars (L$ 5,000) is charged as fees for a girl child born at the facility and Seven Thousand Liberian Dollars (L$7,000) is charged for a newborn boy.  Speaking with CENTAL’s Open Expenditure Initiative team members, Madam Victoria (not her real name) who occupies a key position in the community alluded to the impact of the situation. “I have three children, two boys, and a girl. I was told to pay L$4,000 for my daughter and L$7,000 for my sons. I begged and paid 4,500 and 6,500 each. This has made me stop giving birth because I don’t have that kind of money to pay every time,” she said. Several other citizens confirmed the allegation, including prominent and eminent citizens in the community.

Meanwhile, Madam Lydia Kanneh, Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the health center, denied the allegations. “The minimum amount charged at the hospital is 2,500 and this is cut across, whether male or female. Unless in extreme cases, then more than that will be required. Otherwise, the aforementioned amount is constant,” Madam Kanneh noted. According to her, the purpose of such a fee is to buy hospital materials and compensate midwives who serve as Community Health Providers. In 2016, the government and its partner launched a National Health Assistant Program that ensured traditional midwives were trained to serve and provide assistance to pregnant women living five kilometers or further from a health facility before referrer to a  hospital.  This remedy emerged due to the high maternal mortality rate observed in the country.  The most alarming thing is that pregnant women are charged to access public health facilities that the National Health Policy deemed free.

The 2011-2021 National Health Policy plan[i] mandates free health services for pregnant women. According to the policy, even low fees could deter health-seeking behavior. Therefore, to encourage the uptake of priority services by all people, there should be no fee attached. Imagine if a pregnant woman comes to give birth and doesn’t have money, what will be the outcome? Even as Liberia encourages hospital deliveries to lower newborn maternal death rates, the policy has the opposite impact. Liberia has one of the highest rates of death for newborns in the world.  According to UNICEF, 76 of 1,000 births. The maternal mortality rate from the 2019-2020 Country Health[ii] Survey indicates  93 deaths per 1,000 live births in the 5 years in Liberia preceding the survey, while child mortality was 33 deaths per 1,000 live births and infant mortality is  63 deaths per 1,000 live births. this situation cannot be unique to the Gorblee health center, but other centers in Liberia alike; For instance, FrontPage Africa Reported in 2020 that the acting administrator of Phebe[iii] Hospital warned that patients, who require surgery and emergency services would be made to pay for the cost of fuel. This, according to Rev. Victor Padmore, would help sustain the services at the hospital. Though the policy indicates free, but citizens have always either brought their own supplies or paid some fees. Viola Makor, a  resident midwife at the Link Maternal Waiting Home and the reproductive health supervisor for Suakoko District in Bong County attested when she spoke with Yassah Levelah, the CEO of Comfort Closet that many[iv] women in the community shy away from hospitals because of the demand from the hospitals. For the policy to impact the general public, one of the primary concentrations of the government should be to prioritize health, including ensuring information about healthcare prices is clear and accessible to the public together with increasing healthcare workers’ salaries. 


[ii]  Libera Demographic and Health Survey 2019-20  



John Doe ‘Liberia Stranded Phebe Hospital’ (2022) Frontpage Africa <  t/> accessed 5 June 2023.

Monday, 22 May 2023 15:48

LACC Urges Citizens to Blow Whistle on Corruption

Written by

By:  Torwon F. Gensee

The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has assured residents of Grand Bassa County that blowing the whistle on corruption is one key way to stop it. LACC engaged citizens during an anti-corruption forum organized by the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), under the Anti-Corruption Innovation Initiative project on April 28, 2023. The project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

During the event, Cllr. Jerry D.K. Garlawolu, Program Manager and Chief Prosecutor of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) began by explaining the mandate and functions of the LACC as a lead anti-graft institution in Liberia.  In addition,  he delivered a presentation on the Whistleblower and Witness Protection Acts as well as the mandate of the LACC. Not only did the presentation give participants an understanding of the mandate of the LACC; it enlightened them on the different laws that exist to make corruption reporting a less risky adventure.  

The one-day event brought citizens together citizens, the media, CSOs, Local County Officials, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), and other stakeholders. It was aimed at engaging with stakeholders on the effectiveness of the Talkay platform and citizens’ willingness to use it for reporting and tracking corruption-related cases. TALKAY is an e-platform - that encourages citizens to report corruption-related cases without uncovering their identities.

Corruption affects every sector of society; it erodes the citizens’ trust in their government while at the same time stalling national growth and development. Within the Liberian society, the presence of corruption is nothing strange; it takes the lion’s share of the reasons why the country is still notably lacking behind - when it comes to growth and development despite having abundant natural resources.

And one sector that has borne the brunt of corruption is education.  Mr. Nathaniel Cisco, the County Education Officer of Grand Bassa, stated at the forum. Cisco lamented corruption within the educational sector. According to him, one of the ways the Ministry of Education is spreading anti-corruption messages in schools is to develop textbooks that contain anti-graft lessons. “As a way of helping to spread anti-corruption messages in schools, the government through the Ministry of Education is developing textbooks for six graders; those textbooks contain anti-corruption lessons,” said Cisco.

One of the hindrances to having citizens report corrupt practices has been the lack of adequate protection for whistleblowers. However, after attending the forum, the participants now understand that with the introduction of the Talkay platform, one can now report allegations of corruption without revealing their identity. “At first, we were afraid to report corruption because we feared that the accused would come running after us, but now that we have this Talkay Platform that allows us to report without anyone seeing us, we will use it to report whenever and wherever we see acts of corruption happen,” said the Alternative Education Supervisor/NGO Focal Person of Grand Bassa, Mr. J. Mayoud Toure.

Additionally,  King Brown, a reporter at Magic FM, acknowledged the importance of the e-platform. According to him, they will now not only discuss the issue of corruption on the radio. Still, they will also use the Talkay platform to rally against individuals involved with corrupt practices. “The media has a key role to play in tackling corruption. We are thankful for this platform; it will enable us to take a step beyond just talking about it on the radio and start to report,” Mr. Brown indicated.

The fight against corruption is everyone’s business because the end product will benefit every member of society. Winning this war will lead to improved public service delivery and a nation whose leaders lead accountably with integrity and transparency. However, to achieve this, the citizens must jointly take ownership of the fight. In a closing remark,  Executive Director of the LACC, Moses Kowo,  urged participants: “Let us take ownership of the fight against corruption; this country cannot remain like this. Let this serve - as a wake-up call to ensure corrupt individuals are held accountable. Let us ensure that the monies that come to the counties do not end up in the pockets of corrupt individuals. We cannot eradicate corruption instantly; similarly, we cannot make it a way of life.”


By Dr. Akiah P. Glay Dormoh

In Liberia, there is a famous adage that says “Anything a man can do, a woman can do even better”. This adage was manifest in the 2005 general and presidential elections when, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, took the helm of the Liberian Presidency and became the first woman to be elected as an African head of state after an electoral process dominated by male candidates.

Although it wasn’t all rosy for the ‘iron lady’, as she was often referred to, especially taking over a country with a dysfunctional infrastructure, system, and checkered international image, she rallied support and repositioned Liberia as a respectable member of the international community.   If there is a lesson to be learned from Liberia’s experiment of women’s leadership, it is that women have what it takes to deliver the kind of transformative leadership a country need. 


Women play a critical role in the body politics of Liberia. This is so because the 2022 census result indicates that the total population of Liberia is 5.2 million (5,248.621)[1]. Out of the total population, 50.4% (2,644,450) are male and 49.6% (2,604,171) are female, which means, the ratio between male and female population is at 5 percent. Considering the margin, the need for equal participation cannot be more emphasized. Equal participation overall is much needed in Liberia because it breeds a more shared economy and enhances development and also alleviates poverty, especially among the most marginalized group (the women precisely). Women as they are the most vulnerable groups.

The national and local governments can support women’s political participation in multiple ways, but firstly, they need to consider specific measures that will overcome barriers of gender discrimination; especially, specific gaps in capacities or resources that prevent women from competing effectively.

And the fact that Liberia has gained great recognition as being the first nation to elect a female president and in the 2017 election, elected a female vice president. This could have set the pace for more women’s involvement in politics. However, women’s representation remains low in most institutions in Liberia. Whether in private or public institutions, it is largely dominated by males.  Currently, women occupied 11% of the 103 seat[2]s in the National Legislature, 20% of managerial positions in public institutions, and 20.1% of senior and middle managerial positions in the government. Liberia ranked 156th of 162 countries[3] on the Gender Inequality Index and 94 on the Global Gender Gap. The aforementioned statistic shows a crisis of under-representation of women in the public sphere in Liberia given that women and girls make up close to 50% of the total[4] population. Without affirmative action legislation, and enforcement mechanisms structured to help address women’s participation in elections, Liberia’s democratic, development, and equality goals will not be achieved.

Biases Against Women Politicians

There are various reasons for the under-representation of women in political institutions. Stereotyping, or assigning characteristics to political leaders of a certain group is considered one of the many factors. For instance, females are seen as kind, mothers, warm and compassionate, whereas males are typically viewed as assertive, tough, and competent. Although the extent to which these stereotypes help or hurt female candidates electorally is debatable. Perhaps, they could indicate that women are often not considered ‘leadership material’. Particularly, voters tend to show a preference for stereotypically[5] masculine traits over feminine characteristics when determining who should hold high office.  Secondly, even when women are brave enough to enter politics, female politicians face a paradoxical challenge. Here are classic examples, In 2019, Ms. Telia Urey ran for the District 15 Representative seat but was faced with several forms of discrimination.  Again, Cllr. Charlyne Brumskine's intention to[6] run in the 2023 Representative election in Grand Bassa County has begun to alarm death threats. Long before now, her excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf testified of being victimized throughout her political career.  True be told, gender equality contributes immensely to speedy growth and development. It is about time Liberians think deeply to equalize the margin between males and females. The mechanism to have an equitable society should be at the peak of all political parties and the government. Though gender biases cannot be eliminated overnight, concrete actions can be taken toward eliminating all forms of gender biases. Before effective changes can be made, it is imperative to recognize how power is structured in electoral institutions, political parties, the media, and in our everyday lives but we have a way forward through legislation.

Legal Framework that can set the Pace for more affirmative actions in the 2023 Election

Article 5 of the 1986[7] Constitution of Liberia makes provisions for the national unity of Liberians into one body politic and for the enactment of laws encouraging the participation of all citizens in government including women and men. Also, national policies have been adopted to address different aspects of women’s political participation and representation such as the National Gender Policy (2018-2022)[8] that commits to promoting gender parity in all spheres of governance, the affirmative action policy, and legislation for women’s participation, and the National Government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) (2018-2023). Specifically, Pillar One: Power to the People seeks to emphasize the political participation of women at the national and local levels to reach a target of 30% by 2023. Internationally, Liberia has adopted a range of regional and international legal frameworks on the advancement of women’s political and civic rights at local and national levels, including ratification of the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol; adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; and ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (The Maputo Protocol). These frameworks provide a perfect reason for vigorous affirmative action especially when taking into account the  2005 gender quota [9]that mandates political parties or coalitions to endeavor and ensure that the governing body and its list of candidates have no less than 30% of its member from each gender. 


Meaningful participation of women in politics and decision-making brings different perspectives and experiences to addressing national problems. In order to address many different issues women and men are faced with, equal representation is required. Liberia will not be able to meet the myriad of development challenges it faces if women are not at the decision-making table. UN Women Executive Director [10] Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, seeing the need for equality in politics commented on the 2021 Women in Politics data and said “No country prospers without the engagement of women. We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic, and political situations. we still need bold decisive action across the world to bring women into the heart of decision-making spaces in large numbers and as full partners. There’s no doubt this can and should be done. It should be done now.”

To conclude, now is the time to take action against stereotyping and promote gender equality in all political parties across the country, especially during the formulation of political parties’ leadership.



[2] Country Fact Sheet | UN Women Data Hub

[3] Liberia (

[4] Liberia announces provisional results of its 5th National Population and Housing Census | United Nations in Liberia


[6] Charlyne Brumskine alarms death threat - Liberia news The New Dawn Liberia, premier resource for latest news

[7] Liberia 1986 Constitution - Constitute (

[8] The Liberia National Gender Policy (

[9] Liberia: Amended electoral laws (2014) — (


Tuesday, 25 April 2023 12:21

Sanniquellie Gets Share of TALKAY Outreach

Written by

By Mark Boahndao

Nimba, Sanniquelle, April 19, 2023 – “Awareness-raising is the first step to tackling corruption. When we talk to each other about corruption, people will be afraid to get involved with it.” Patricia Z. Goyee, a prominent citizen of Sanniquellie, Nimba noted during a community engagement by CENTAL under the auspices of the Anti-Corruption Innovation initiative.

Corruption is seriously hampering the nation’s prestige while undermining economic growth, exacerbating poverty, and eroding public trust in institutions. Fortunately, technology can be a powerful tool for combating corruption and raising awareness about the issue. Tested and tried in other countries, technology is tremendously helping in the fight against this menace. Thus, this innovative method has been grasped by anti-graft institutions, the Government, civil society actors, donors, and citizens on the note that it will eventually help in the fight against corruption.

In partnership with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Integrity Watch Liberia, and the Accountability Lab Liberia with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) is enlightening the minds of citizens about the use of technology – an innovation to report corruption and other mediums in Sanniquellie, Nimba County. The awareness about the usage of the mobile app and web-based platforms to rally citizens' support to report, research, and follow up on trends in the fight against corruption.

In continuation of the awareness-raising activities in the counties, efforts are being applied to strengthen the fight against corruption by encouraging inhabitants of Sanniquellie to report corruption by using the TALKAY mobile app and web-based platforms, and other mediums to report acts of corruption. Citizens were astonished at the level of engagement the awareness has taken. The awareness-raising took the streets, communities, a local radio, high schools, and the community college within the county. Heralded through music, flyers, stickers, one-on-one engagements, and the media, the message seems to be resonating well.

From the qualitative research carried out in the project counties – Grand Bassa, Bomi, Nimba, Bong, and Montserrado, 9 out of 10 persons asked had prior knowledge of corruption but were lacking the reporting mediums, especially by the use of technology. Leveraging their knowledge, they were encouraged to use technology to report.

Women are actively taking the lead in these discussions and making salient points. “We pah, we na know about your book people thing, we will tell our children them to use it for us”, -Martha Brown, speaks out in colloquia. On the other hand, young people are thrusting themselves into discussions about corruption and prudently recommending ways to reduce corruption.

“If we practically create substantial awareness of corruption, report and expose corrupt personalities, and ensure persecution, this will serve as a deterrence. And gradually, we will make gains in the fight against this public enemy” – Emmanuel Tokpa, Student.

In high spirits, the team continues to take awareness among the locals by encouraging more people to report using technology and other mediums. These efforts and more will place a yoke on corruption, thus reducing and possibly eradicating it.

By Mark Boahndao

Buchanan, April 12, 2023 – Corruption in Liberia is not a new problem; it has been present in the country for many years and continues to take on new forms. Its rampancy has become ingrained in the country's culture. Citizens continue to herald their voices about the culture of impunity where corruption is seen as acceptable and has become a norm in society. In the wake of this, there must be innovative and robust ways to tackle this menace — starting from the family to the Government.

In continuation of efforts to strengthen the fight against this national enemy – corruption, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) in partnership with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Integrity Watch Liberia, and the Accountability Lab Liberia with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has rekindled the awareness-raising around the use of technology as an innovation to report corruption and other mediums in Grand Bassa, Bomi, Bong, Nimba, and Montserrado counties.

The citizens of Grand Bassa County were awakened to the sound (music) of awareness about the TALKAY mobile app and website platform to file complaints or report corruption. Prior to street engagement, the media (local radio) was prioritized to adequately and simply disseminate this innovation of reporting corruption. Ordinarily, most citizens rely on the media to provide information and education. Using the media to increase citizens’ awareness and reportage about the act and other forms of corruption through an innovative approach has been at a pivotal point of the activities in the west central portion of Liberia — Buchanan.

As awareness-raising continues to intensify in the streets, schools, and communities, citizens continue to raise their voices proclaiming the adverse impacts of corruption and how it is gradually permeating society from the bottom to the top. Citizens are increasingly recognizing the importance of taking action against corruption and are raising their voices to demand accountability and transparency from their leaders. Despite the challenges, the fight against corruption is gaining momentum, and citizens' voices are becoming increasingly important in holding the government and its leaders accountable. By continuing to raise their voices and demand transparency and accountability, citizens can play a critical role in building a more just and equitable society.

“Corruption is being practiced by almost everyone.” Patience Dolo. As a marketer, she is alarmed about the prevalence of corruption among market women. Most of them including herself are involved in corrupt practices because the wholesalers of dry and perishable goods are cheaters. “The only way we can reduce corruption is to punish the big people. When we see their level of punishment, it will serve as deterrence for us not to get involved it in.” She added.

Love S. Flahnma, a student boldly lamented the leniency of the school administrators to take action against corrupt teachers. “If we continue to take less action against teachers, students will not be afraid to practice corruption”, She concluded.

According to the analytics of the TALKAY web platform [], sixty-three (63) complaints have been reported from twelve (12) counties since the intense outreach activities started two (2) months ago across Liberia. Rivercess is in the lead with 14 complaints and Grand Bassa holds the least with 2 complaints. Montserrado, Margibi, Grand Kru, Grand Gedeh, Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, and Bomi falls below 10 complaints. For the project counties, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Bomi, Nimba and Bong counties have accumulated thirty-three (33) complaints so far. Most of the cases reported from these counties borders on the misuse of Government properties, misuse of public funds, bribery, and extortion. The percentage of reporting per gender is 21% male and female 16%. Cases investigated is at 5% while those under investigation is at 8% and allegation of corruption is at 87%.

As the team’s spirit continues in the awareness-raising around the country on the innovation of reporting corruption, Atty. Bendu Kpoto, CENTAL’s Legal Officer, and team members admonished citizens to vote wisely, especially by voting for those candidates based on their past track records taking into consideration transparency and accountability. And while citizens continue to express displeasure at corruption, the question lingers: Is anyone listening?

How CENTAL aborted over LRD$60,000 payment to school administration in Rivercess

Corruption and fraud in schools are causing serious economic constraints for parents/guardians and compromising the future of the youth in Liberia. It is preventing poorer parents from sending their children to school, and lowering teaching standards thus wrecking the education system.   

In February, 2022, a matter was reported by students of the Cestos High School in Rivercess County regarding what was referred to as, ‘illegal collection’ of L$2,000.00 from over thirty (30) senior students which is equivalent to L$ 60,000 and US$ 397.39 of the School as summer school fee. The fee was intended to be paid by students who didn’t make successful passes in the School’s academic requirements. The amount was in addition to a LRD$ 5,000.00 per student equivalent to L$ 150.000 and US$ 993.48 stipulation of the Ministry of Education for all senior students as graduation fee. Because of the constraint some students had in paying the fee, they decided to report and seek redress. This is one of the many instances that is unheard of in schools and other institutions in and around the country.  

What did CENTAL Do?    

Upon receipt of the report, CENTAL, through its County Field Officer held immediate engagement with the School’s administration aimed at resolving the matter.

Following the engagement, the administration decided to disregard the collection of the extra fees and reimbursed students who made initial payments. The administration’s plan to have collected over LD$60,000.00 from the already struggling senior students was aborted as a result of CENTAL’s prompt intervention.  

Socially, the illegal collection of fees from student for service in education has a wide range of consequences. It acts as a barrier to education, because it makes the cost of acquiring an education prohibitive, or cause reluctance in students to put effort in learning or acquiring education. Amazingly, many students, would want to report but the lack of reporting mechanism, especially one that protects the identities of whistleblowers has prevented many people from reporting this act of corruption, even if they opposed it.

Many have been fearful of different factors – loss of jobs, relationships and even their lives. Or treatments meted out against a few colleagues who dared and opposed the act were enough reasons to compel other into submission or self-censorship. There has never been any framework or mechanism to facilitate reporting acts of corruption in the public and private sectors.       

To this end, CENTAL, under its National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) Program established a confidential reporting mechanism to reporting.

The Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC), through a toll-free hotline number, 4432 provides a safe space for citizens to report all acts of corruption and integrity related in homes, communities, schools, workplaces etc. It also provides access to information and legal advice for victims of corruption and others citizens.

Over the last two years, CENTAL has increased anti-corruption and integrity building awareness, especially the need to freely and confidentially report and seek redress to acts of corruption across its seven project counties – Montserrado, Bong, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Rivercess.

Feedbacks from the different engagements indicate that the message is resonating with the people. They are reaching out. The ALAC has so far recorded over one hundred and eighty-eight (188) cases of corruption have so far. Of this, one hundred and fifty-seven (157) were males while thirty-one (31) were females.  The abortion of over LRD $ 60.00 illegal payment is one of the many cases resolved.

Some of these cases were resolved either through mediation, legal advice while others were referred to relevant public authorities for redress.

The NIBA Program is a 3.5-year Program funded by the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Pregnant Women abandoned at Maternity Waiting Home in Bong County

By: Dr. Akiah P. Glay

Gender Officer/ Coordinator, Open Expenditure Initiative

Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL)

Over eight (8) pregnant women at the Maternity Waiting Home (MWH) in Forequelleh Town, Bong County are said to be faced with the issue of abandonment and lack of support. Like many MWHs across Liberia, the facility was constructed to accommodate pregnant women during pregnancy and baby mothers after birth to enable them have timely access to essential childbirth treatments and care.

But, pregnant women at the Forequelleh Town Safe Home have been left without the needed support and care as intended. Some have described the Home as a ‘death trap’ rather than a Safe Home.     

“It is only because our homes are far away from the hospital that’s why we are here. Otherwise, we would prefer to stay home until our due dates …”


      _____Women who stay at the Forequelleh MWH

Inside the MWH in Forequelleh

Garmai and Hannah were met cooking outside on a wood fire at the front of the Maternity Waiting Home (MWH) in Forequelleh town, district# 4, Bong County. They are in their ninth month of pregnancy and have been at the facilitate for nearly two weeks.

Aside from the physical structure provided by the government, the rest including bed, food and other social and dietary needs are provided by their family. They also have to go and fetch water, wood and basic items to prepare the food brought by their relatives.  If MWH is intended to be a safe home to reduce maternal mortality rate, with these conditions, it seems a death trap for women and their unborn due to the many challenges.



Maternity Waiting Homes (MWHs) are accommodation located near a health facility where women can stay towards the end of pregnancy and/or after birth to enable timely access to essential childbirth or care for complication. In rural Liberia, the trip for pregnant women to visit the nearest hospital/clinic often entails a journey of many miles, usually on foot.

Therefore, MWHs are developed in buildings adjacent to a district hospital/clinic to accommodate high-risk women. MWH in Forequelleh, Bong county is one of the many Waiting homes confronted with challenges for pregnant women in Liberia.

The Liberia Demography and Health Survey 2019-2020 ((LISGIS), 2019-2020) result shows that  over 5 years prior to the survey, infant, child, and under-5 mortality rates were 63, 33, and 93 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively. Currently, Child mortality has declined since 2013.

However, under-5 mortality has remained relatively stagnant, and infant mortality has increased. Given this, the establishment of MWH is expected to decrease infant and maternal mortality. But on the contrary, it has increase instead. What exactly is hindering its decline?



MWHs in Liberia are constructed as part of the many efforts made to strengthen healthcare system and accommodate women who travel long distances to seek maternity care.

The hope is that these facilities will help supplement the fight against maternal mortality and reduce pregnancy-related death and other complications. With the hope of discouraging home-deliveries, maternal waiting homes are an essential piece of the effort towards accessible health care.

However, for towns and communities without a health facility, pregnant women still either choose to deliver at homes, which many times come with huge risks; or walk many kilometers to reach the lone maternal waiting home available. For those who muster the courage to go over to waiting homes, challenges abound, particularly including lack of food, safe drinking water, flush toilet and even bed. 

The lack of basic social and dietary needs is significantly affecting, if not defeating the purpose because many pregnant women would rather stay at home where they have family members to cater for them which is risky than withstanding dreadful situation at the center.

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) under the National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption program (NIBA) implemented at its institution with Funding from the Government and People of Sweden through the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), conducts monitoring visitation in seven (7) counties in Liberia namely-Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Nimba, Bong and Gbarpolu counties every year of its project implementation  to compliment government effort through monitoring the evaluating projects sponsored with the County Social Development Fund (CSDF), and also, the  direct impact of those projects  on citizens. Amongst the many projects monitored, the MWH in Forequelleh, Bong county could not be ignored but flagged-out as one of the many MWHs that faces challenge. 

image002Pregnant women seen in the above picture are sitting on a flat mattress on the floor. Inside this room, they also have their firewood, cooking utensils etc. In 2018/2019, US$ 25.000.00 was allotted from the County Social Development Fund (CSDF) to build this maternity home in Forequlleh, Panta, according to the Project Management Committee report.

At the end of 2021, this project was completed, dedicated and now in use.  Garmai and Hannah are among several other pregnant women met at the facility waiting to bring forth their babies. They told the team about the many challenges they are face with at the center.

They regrettably said, they would have preferred to stay closer to their relatives than to starve.  These women confided that they barely get food to eat daily. More to that, even if they mobilize and get a cup of rice, it is barely enough, so they literally go hungry for days or eat boiled rice without any sauce sometimes.

Throughout their stay at the facility, they provide everything including bed, sheets etc.  Even after delivery, both mother and child are compelled to contend with the harsh reality thus causing malnutrition for a child as the mother has less nutrient in her breastmilk for the child.  

(UNICEF, 2020) stated that most babies in Liberia receive plain water, other liquids, and food in addition to breastmilk during their first six months of life, contributing to child malnutrition, illness, and even death. Also, Liberia ranks the 8th globally, 3rd in Africa for maternal and newborn mortality which means, since 2000, the maternity death rate continued to increase. Amid these, the House of Legislature passed a bill to protect babies’ health by mandating mothers to breastfeed their babies at least six months. While this seems a good step, can we consider what goes into the mother breast to produce nutrition for the child? Is it mother’s milk or the lack of quality care, nutritious food and safe enabling environment that is the problem? The need to upgrade MWHs in rural Liberia is essential to combating Maternity Mortality rate.

Conclusion and Recommendation

As ending maternal mortality is a Millennium Development Goal, and supported by the WHO, UN, as well as many large non-governmental organizations, innovative solutions must be supported. Funding should be provided to equip these facilitates.  

The government should ensure financing and effective management system to alleviate the financial burden from individuals at the MWHs. The government should also, strengthen management support systems, including procurement, and logistics for MWHs in all part of Liberia.  These are very important if these projects must remain relevant in attracting and housing those at the verge of delivery, as well as promoting safe delivery practices.

‘Women, O Women!’ It's the rallying cry of Liberia’s women movement. The cry summons a spirit that emboldens against the timidity that has held many women from venturing on new frontiers. It is a call that awakens women who have grown content with mediocrity and charges them to ‘do something’. It reminds of the inherent qualities that women possess and can employ to be even better. In a proper sense, however, it is a call to battle—a battle against all forms of suppression fostered by a male-dominated society. The struggle aims for a society where women have the opportunity to become productive professionals and not just consigned to the care economy; where customs do not subtract from the bodily integrity of women, and where having a female President is not just an isolated accomplishment. As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, it is important to reflect on the conditions of Liberian women and their pursuit of a more equitable society where governance without meaningful representation and participation of women is only a thing of the past.

In the shadows

Women have not always occupied prominent roles in Liberian society, and their voices have not always been publicly heard.  In order to appreciate the early experiences of Liberian women, however, an assumption of homogeneity must not be made. While findings may vary due to ethnic, religious, and other considerations, a broader examination of women in the Liberian state must consider two groups that generally constituted the state: Americo-Liberians and Natives. Scholars are in agreement that a key commonality between the groups lie in the fact that women were not equal with men. Also, women were the dominant force in domestic work and child-rearing. However, Americo-Liberian women enjoyed some of the most progressive rights enjoyed by women across the world at the time. According to Newman, they could buy and sell land, enter into contracts, bring legal suits and initiate divorces, appeal to the Legislature, and exercise other forms of agency. [1]

In contrast, women in the customary or native setting were lacking in autonomy. According to Fuest, women were married off very young to older men, children belonged to the lineage of the husband, and a woman could lose access to her children and marital property upon the death or divorce of her husband, especially where she refuses to re-marry within the husband’s family. [2] Fuest also relates the unfortunate fact that women were accumulated by powerful men who then redistributed women’s sexual and reproductive services to foster political alliances and win other clients. Also, women did not engage in extensive market activities. But women also yielded other forms of power. The Sande female secret society accumulated resources and wielded considerate power over initiates and members, with the same being recognized by their male counterparts. In the southeast, a council of female elders could deliberate and veto decisions made by men through collective demonstrations, while individual women became political leaders in the Northwest.[3] Most notable is Madam Suakoko who was appointed by President Daniel E. Howard (1912-1920) as Clan Chief of Kiayea.[4] She is credited with unifying the clan; playing a key role in annexing Bong, Lofa, and Nimba, to Liberia; aiding government’s military operations; and contributing to the establishment of three major institutions in the district now named after her: Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), Phebe Hospital, and Cuttington University. [5]

Generally, the situation of women in Liberia did not receive major attention until the second half of the twentieth century.

The turning point

Liberian women began to rally against marginalization by the 1930s. The first cooperate move towards their political rights began in 1931 with the Liberian Women’s League under the leadership of Sarah Simpson George. [6] Their engagement began by assisting the government in improving the sanitary conditions of Monrovia. In 1932, another group under the leadership of Maude A. Morris took a more direct approach by petitioning the Legislature to request an amendment of the Constitution to extend suffrage to women. [7] In 1942, President Edwin J. Barclay’s administration passed a “Referendum Act” to amend the Constitution granting women’s right to vote but the amendment did not happen as it was never referred to constituents. [8] In 1946, however, the right to vote and hold political office was finally extended to women under President William V.S. Tubman. [9] This meant that Americo-Liberian women were no more confined to secretarial duties or teaching in schools. [10] Women then began to occupy key offices in government and were elected to the national legislature. For example, Elizabeth Collins became the first female senator, Ellen Mills Scarborough became the first female representative, Etta Wright acted on several occasions as Secretary of Defense, and Angie Brooks rose from a Liberian diplomat to the prestigious position of President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1969. [11] In 1971, Emma Shannon Walser became the first woman to become a judge in Liberia, [12]  and Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman made history when she was the first woman to be inaugurated as President of the University of Liberia and President of an African institution of higher learning in 1978. [13] At the beginning of the 1980s, women constituted 32.2 percent of the secondary school teachers, 30 percent of the university teachers, 14.7 percent of the judges, 9.4 percent of the doctors and dentists, and 48.2 percent of the nurses. [14]

War Years

The outbreak of the civil war in 1989 greatly affected the vulnerable, including women and children. There are many horrific accounts of rape, torture, and murder meted out against women. Hardship was also endured as a result of conflict-induced displacement. But it is important to note, however, that women were also actors in the conflict. Women units existed amongst all the armed factions, although estimates of the number of women fighters range from 2 to 5% of the total. [15] Some even gained notoriety as fierce warriors. But the war years seem to have made women, even more, stronger as it increased the scope of their economic activities as well as their political involvement.  Women had to step up as many men (husbands, fathers, sons, brothers) were killed or had to flee to hide in the forest. Women were forced to take on traditional tasks of men such as making bricks, building and roofing houses, and clearing farms, while local narratives refer to many women who physically protected their husbands and family members from combatants. [16] Market women made extended businesses by crossing fighting lines into territories where men could not go. Indeed, many analysts agree that since the war, women’s ability to live independently has increased dramatically and many have assumed key roles in society a ‘remarkable emancipation from their pre-war positions’. [17] In a remarkable move towards mainstreaming gender issues across Liberian society, the Ministry of Gender and Development was established in 2001.

Many women’s organizations have emerged since the war era. In fact, women’s organizations were instrumental in ending the 14-year conflict. Thousands of women in white under the umbrella of the Women in Peace Building Network (WIPNET) took to the streets to demand an end to the violence. Women also insisted on being part of peace talks to which only the (male) leaders of the armed factions were invited. [18] This ultimately yielded results. As Chinkin notes, the Comprehensive Peace Accord of 2003 contains gender-relevant provisions: women inclusion in the Governance Reform Commission, women organizations representation in the National Transitional Legislative Assembly, gender balance in all elective and non-elective appointments’ within the National Transitional Government of Liberia, amongst others. [19] Leymah Gbowee and many others came to prominence during this period as they mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the conflict. Gbowee became a joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 along with fellow country-woman Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. [20]


Post-war developments

A major win was soon made on the legal front, with the enactment of an Inheritance Law in 2003 to protect the marriage rights of women. By 2006, history was made with the inauguration of Africa’s first elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Notably, Madam Ruth Sando Fahnbulleh Perry had served before her as the interim Chairman of the Council of State of Liberia from 3 September 1996 until 2 August 1997. By 2008, women’s representation in the legislature was low at 15%. With Ellen in power, the glass ceiling had been broken and the obvious anticipation was centered around how different she would run the government, including how women would be involved. By 2008 also, women occupied 22% of cabinet positions in the Sirleaf government. She also appointed the first female Chief of Police. An anti-rape law was passed and a fast-track court established to deal with gender-based violence. Hundreds of markets were built or renovated during her regime for thousands of marketers. But Sirleaf’s support for women in politics soon came under question. By 2017, only 4 out of 21 cabinet ministers were female. Pailey and Reeves are of the view that she did nothing to position women favorably for political office citing her refusal to honor a petition from women to support a woman as her party’s candidate for a 2009 by-election. [21] They further contend that Sirleaf did little to increase females in leadership roles within her Party (the Unity Party). According to Pailey and Williams, Sirleaf did not actively support a proposed law granting 30 percent of political party leadership to women as well as a trust fund to finance electoral campaigns. They lament Sirleaf’s silence when another bill allotting five seats for women in the Legislature was rejected by largely male Senators given that a similar bill had already propelled women to high public offices in Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa. Sirleaf was later expelled from her  party days before leaving office. [22] She was reinstated by the National Elections Commission the following year.[23]

Another major criticism of Sirleaf was her defense of nepotism and seeming unwillingness to tackle corruption. Admittedly, Liberia reached its highest score of 41 on the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International in 2012 largely due to anti-corruption legislation and institutions established during her administration. However, the political will to investigate and prosecute persons of corruption was lacking. Fellow Nobel Laureate, Leymah Gbowee resigned from the Peace and Reconciliation Commission criticizing Sirleaf’s decision to appoint her three sons to senior government positions.

The checkered legacy of Sirleaf arguably stands in the way of future female contenders for the highest office. However, the legacies of male Presidents have not been any better. So while Sirleaf might have disappointed in different respects, opportunities still exist for women in politics, as well as for generally increasing the role of women in the life of the nation. President George M. Weah seemed to have jumped at this opportunity when he declared himself feminist-in-chief upon taking office. But only a few years later, his party (Coalition for Democratic Change) submitted its candidates for the Senatorial Elections without a single female candidate. [24] Currently, only 5 out of his 19 cabinet ministers are females. [25]

All hope is not lost, however. We remain hopeful that the women of Liberia stay true to their commitment to achieving a just and equitable society for all. We celebrate the many women, known and unknown, who sacrificed for a better Liberia. Some got a glimpse of it during their lifetime and others did not. To those who currently bear this task, the nation looks up to you. A better Liberia is possible. Women, O Women!

About the Authors

Gerald Dan Yeakula is a Liberian lawyer currently based at the Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in South Africa where he is pursuing a Master’s of Law Degree in Human Rights and Democratization in Africa. He is Program Manager at the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).

Akiah Precious Glay holds a Doctorate in Sociology with Emphasis in Conflict Escalation from the Selçuk University, Konya, Turkey, Master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies: Nicolaus Copernicus University Torun, Poland and the Kofi Annan Institute for Peace Studies, University of Liberia. She currently serves as the Gender Officer at CENTAL

Leelah P. Semore holds a Masters in Environmental Science from the Cuttington University and a Bachelor in Plant and Soil Science from the same university. She is currently a Program Assistant at CENTAL.


[1] D Newman, ‘The Emergence of Liberian Women in the Nineteenth Century’ Howard University, Washington, DC, 1984, pp. 197–8, 378–9.

[2] V Fuest ‘“This is the Time to Get in Front”: Changing Roles and Opportunities for Women in Liberia’ (2008) 107 African Affairs 201.

[3] As above

[4][4] ‘Madame Suakoko’ (Historical Preservation Society of Liberia) <> accessed 7 March 2022.

[5] As above

[6] ‘The Federation journal. ([North Carolina]) 1945-19??, March 01, 1953, Image 1 · North Carolina Newspapers’ <> accessed 7 March 2022.

[7] As above

[8] As above

[9] AE Brooks ‘Political Participation of Women in Africa South of the Sahara’ (1968) 375 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 82.

[10] (n 2) Above

[11] C Brooks ‘Liberia Celebrates William V. S. Tubman’s 122nd Birth Anniversary Tomorrow, November 29th’ (Global News Network) <> accessed 7 March 2022.

[12] ‘Liberia: Liberian Women Unite to Push for More Seats in the Legislature’ (FrontPageAfrica) <> accessed 7 March 2022.

[13] ‘Pres. Sirleaf Inducts Dr. Ophelia Weeks As 14th President of University of Liberia’ (FrontPageAfrica) <> accessed 8 March 2022.

[14] (n 2) Above

[15] M Moran ‘Our Mothers Have Spoken: Synthesizing Old and New Forms of Women’s Political Authority in Liberia’ (2012) 13 17.

[16] (n 2) Above

[17] As above

[18] (n 15) above

[19] Chinkin, ‘Gender, international legal framework and peacebuilding’.

[20] ‘The Nobel Peace Prize 2011’ ( <> accessed 8 March 2022.

[21] RN Pailey and KR Williams ‘Africa at LSE: Is Liberia’s Sirleaf really standing up for women? #LiberiaDecides’ 3.

[22] ‘Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: The legacy of Africa’s first elected female president’ BBC News (22 January 2018) <> accessed 8 March 2022.

[23]Admin ‘Former President Sirleaf, others back to Unity Party’ (Liberia Public Radio, 23 June 2019) <> accessed 8 March 2022.

[24] ‘Liberia’s self-proclaimed “feminist president” Weah fails to nominate woman candidate’ (RFI, 12 August 2020) <> accessed 8 March 2022.

[25] C Brooks ‘LIBERIA: Women NGO Critiques President Weah’s SONA’ (GNN Liberia) <> accessed 8 March 2022.

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