Although Liberia’s 2005 democratic transition saw the election of Africa’s first woman head of state, Liberian women continue to face considerable challenges to their participation in political processes. While women are slowly closing the gap, they are still underrepresented as party and civil society leaders, elected representatives and government officials. To better understand the challenges to women’s leadership and to find a way forward, NDI worked with a group of young women volunteers known as the Visionary Young Women in Leadership (VYWL), who conducted research to examine women’s political empowerment in Liberia.
The research used USAID’s Diamond Leadership Model (DLM) to assess the current state of women’s political responsibility in Liberia by conducting a mapping of women leaders in four sectors—executive, legislative, judicial and security sectors. The researchers also conducted in-person interviews with prominent women leaders to garner information about leaders’ career paths, challenges they face and their advice to younger women who aspire to become leaders.
The report reveals that higher percentages of women occupy leadership positions and hold responsibility in the judiciary sector than in the executive and legislative sectors in Liberia. Many challenges facing women in Liberia are not new and not surprising. However, the ways in which current women leaders confronted these challenges can equip aspiring leaders, implementers and donors with useful information on how to increase women’s political empowerment in Liberia. The report contains recommendations to increase women’s political empowerment in Liberia including keeping girls in school, providing mentoring opportunities for young women, equipping them with leadership skills and creating a think tank to help fill the need for quality research to produce policies on issues related to women.