Amby Uneze in Owerri
President of Liberia, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has challenged African women to embrace politics, saying that her election as the first woman to be democratically elected President in the African continent was a strong signal to all the women in Africa.
She said her election also signaled a new dawn with the prospect of leveling the playing field between men and women in politics in Africa.
The Liberian president made the remark at the Imo International Convention Centre (IICC) Owerri, weekend while delivering a lecture on the topic â€œWomen in Politicsâ€ adding that as a continent, Africa should celebrate for recognising women.
Sirleaf, who was in Owerri for a two-day visit on the invitation of Rochas Foundation College of Africa, said: â€œWomen in Africa are still lagging behind in politics due to social, cultural, economic and political constraints that limit their political participation. And the women in Africa have to do much more to get the equality that we all seekâ€.
â€œQuality education changes the attitude and mindset of people. And equality means better performance, and also means better life for everyone. Hence, we need to put more emphasis on education to enhance performance. And that is why what the Imo Governor, Rochas Okorocha is doing with his foundation should be encouraged.
â€œIn our political parties we need to put more emphasis on recruiting female candidates in and outside politics. Our governments need to do more to putting female in up and down the hierarchy. We need to ensure that we as women take the advantages that we have and develop a strategy to deal with the disadvantages we face.
â€œAs I am about to leave office, I am proud that the women of Africa and the world have now seen that women can be leaders, women can do everything that men can do, most times better. As I leave office, there will also be a major gap because I would be leaving the presidency as the first democratically elected female President in African Continent.
â€œIt is something that will lead us to a greater commitment so thatÂ five years from now, we all will look across the continent and see that we now have maybe more female Presidents across the world border. Men and women should be able to work harder in order to achieve gender equalityâ€, she stated.
On the statue erected in her honour she said â€œI hope that this statue and the other honours I received today, would serve as great aspiration to the young girls, to the women, to know that we can reach our potentials. We can achieve our dreams. We can stand tall among the many women of the world in providing the kind of exemplary leadership that will lift us up to stand, as I stand representing womenâ€.
Unveiling Mrs. Sirleafâ€™s statue, Okorocha said she has done Africa in particular proud and the world at large, stressing that the Liberian President deserves every honour because she has remained a woman of inspiration.