ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

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We can make 2024 a historic year for women in politics, writes former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The participation of women in the democratic process is vital for progress, sustainable development, and the preservation of peace and social stability. And in a year poised to be the biggest election year in history, it is all the more urgent to pave the way for women leaders to ascend to positions of power in politics.

Drawing on her legacy and experience as the first democratically elected woman president in Africa, our founder, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, argues in an op-ed published in The Guardian to mark International Women’s Day that 2024 can set a historic precedent for women’s political participation.

To achieve this, Madam Sirleaf writes, elections must reflect the voices of all members of society and allow women to participate in a process that is “fair and free from intimidation, violence, and threats.” 

Her own experience as a woman political leader puts her in good stead to identify the tools that enable women to break down the barriers preventing them from vying for elected positions:

“Leaders, policymakers, and activists must ensure that wherever elections are held, they are equitable, inclusive, free, and fair. This includes cracking down on vote-buying and ensuring that women – particularly in opposition – are not unfairly prevented from campaigning.”  

She also stresses the importance of tackling all forms of gender-based harassment and violence, and allowing women—both voters and candidates—to take part in the political life of their countries without any risk to their safety, security, or reputation.

Recalling the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, Madam Sirleaf writes that “inspire inclusion” is a reminder of the transformative power of women’s political inclusion. The mission of the Amujae Initiative, she adds, is to enhance this power by propelling African women into the highest levels of public leadership.

In her concluding remarks, she commends all the women challenging the status quo for their efforts to transform a male-dominated landscape, stressing that we should support them and “send them a strong signal that we have their back.”

 

Read the full op-ed here.

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