Liberian Women celebrated in grand style when they joined millions of women of the World during the weekend to observe International Women’s Day at a colorful ceremony held at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) in Monrovia.
Dressed in various colorful attires belonging to different women groupings and organizations amidst dancing and singing with a renewed sense of jubilation, thousands of Liberian women along with some visiting colleagues paraded through the principal streets of Monrovia onward to the ATS where the official ceremony was held.
The ceremony which was also attended and led by Liberia’s and Africa’s first elected female President, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, an array of business and professional women from Liberia, West Africa and other parts of the world including the West Africa Women Network for Community of Forest (WAWNCF), was one clouded with unique festivities designed to celebrate women, no matter their status in the society.
Delivering the Keynote Address at the occasion, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Jamesetta Wolokollie said, “As we celebrate today, all women who worked and are working to disabuse Jean-Jacques Rosseau perception of women as coined in his seminal work in which he said ‘Men and women are made for each other, but their mutual dependence is unequal’. We could survive without them better than they could without us. They are dependent on our feelings, on the price we put on their merits, the value we set on their attractions and on their virtue. Thus women’s entire education should be planned in relation to men. To please men, to be useful to them, to win their love and respect, to raise them as children, to care for them as adults, counsel and console them, make their lives sweet and pleasant.”
Justice Wolokollie said, “Such male chauvinism! We congratulate those brave women who stood up and upon whose dare venture women around the world today are now involved in the social, economic, and political activities of their countries and are an integral part of progress in our world.”
Continuing, Justice Wolokollie said, “Patriarchy, the philosophy underpinning women subordination and male supremacy, and often referred to as the oldest form of discrimination in the world, has done major injustice not only to our families, our country, but the world as a whole. Were we to ask for testimonies even from some of the men here today, many would confess to the realism of this year’s theme for the celebration of this International Women’s Day, which is “EQUALITY FOR WOMEN IS PROGRESS FOR ALL”.
Justice Wolokollie noted that advocates of women’s human rights have again and again emphasized that liberating or emancipating women is for the good of society as a whole and failure to unshackle women means more than 50% of a country’s human capital lie idle or perform far below capacity.
“We must admit that the United Nation’s conferences and the yearly commemoration of women’s fight against gender inequality have made some gains. In Liberia today, legalized injustice against women generally has virtually disappeared; laws or formal policies that precluded women from entering any occupation or profession of their choice, owning property, or engaging in any business venture are now practically non-existent,” Justice Wolokollie noted.
She further said women have also made inroads into politics, civil service, the private sector and local government, given that they do not have laws to stunt the country’s development any more.
Justice Wolokollie said women must not just sit there passing the bulk on to males to pull them up, noting that the idea of their wellbeing and that of their children being linked to men and the success of these men must be disabused.
“Only if our women who spent all the time in church, praying to God to send them a husband to improve their lives could spend half of this time going to school, fighting to achieve higher education or getting involved in some meaningful training that would better their lives, a great transformation would come to our country,” Justice Wolokollie told the jam-packed ATS.
She added, “Women’s strive for equality and advancement must begin with their will and desire to first pull ourselves up, as who can better help them but themselves.”
Highly projected at the celebration were hand-made products by Liberian women which were on display in the form of an exhibition at every corner of the ATS; reports Timothy T. Seaklon.