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 Involve Women in Policy and Decision-Making Processes May 26th, 2011

A former Kenyan parliamentarian, Mrs. Njoki Ndungu, has called civil society organizations to advocate for women to be involved in policy formulation and political decision making processes. Mrs. Ndungu made the call on May 17, 2011 at the National Elections Commission headquarters when she facilitated a one day seminar on women in leadership.

The seminar which brought together a cross-section of women organizations and stakeholders was organized by the NEC in collaboration with UNDP and UNMIL.
Commenting lucidly on how women participation in political decision-making process is crucial, Ndungu said mainstreaming women in politics should not be treated as a matter of favor but as a “matter of right”.
Madam Ndungu said though Liberia has a female president, the country needs to do more for women’s participation. She quoted a data compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the basis of information provided by the National Parliaments by September 10, 2010, which out of the total of 186 countries classified by descending order of the percentage of women in the lower or single House, Liberia stands at the 90th position. She said her country, Kenya, stands at the 101st position. Madam Ndungu said more work is currently underway in Kenya to improve the poor level of women’s participation in leadership in the East African Country. She urged Liberia to do likewise.  
In his opening statement, the National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman, Mr. James M. Fromayan, welcomed the participants and underscored the important leadership role women have played over the years and continue to play in political and academic institutions.
Chairman Fromayan cited the election of the first female president of Liberia and on the African continent as a significant milestone in catapulting women in direct leadership role. The NEC Chairman paid tribute to the late Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown-Sherman, first female president of the University of Liberia, whom, according to Chairman Fromayan, played a leadership role in the attainment of social justice, academic freedom and peace. He said the NEC is gender sensitive and encourages women’s participation. He said the NEC currently has a Gender Section and the Commission has three female Commissioners out of a total of seven Commissioners. He said this kind of women participation in decision-making is remarkable and should be encouraged at all levels.
Mrs. Ndungu has delivered a number of papers on gender issues since her arrival in Liberia. She was sponsored by the UNDP and UNMIL to help facilitate workshops and conferences for selected groups making up the Liberian political mosaic. 

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