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Nobel Laureate Gbowee Takes Senatorial Candidate to Task -Says MacDella Cooper’s Aid Arrangement Comments are Misleading

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Two iconic feminist advocates were at each other’s throat last Tuesday at the Monrovia City Hall when one, senatorial candidate and former presidential candidate MacDella Cooper, and the other, Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee, were embroiled in contradictory comments over support to the latter’s humanitarian programs. Madam Cooper had told an audience of predominantly women advocates that once upon the time she had arranged with an unidentified donor who provided financial support to laureate Gbowee’s feminist efforts. But Madam Gbowee who was apparently not in the hall came into the program visibly raged, seized the microphone in the hand of the master of ceremonies and provided a sharp denial before she walked out. As if that was not enough, the founder and CEO of the Gbowee Foundation issued a detailed rebuttal to the former presidential candidate’s assertions. The Analyst reports.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee has a detailed reaction regarding assertions by Senatorial Candidate MacDella Cooper during a women’s meeting that she (Cooper) has caused Madam Gbowee to receive over US$450,000 from a donor abroad.

Madam MacDella Cooper, while speaking June 25, 2019  at the Women’s Candidate Town Hall Meeting held at the Monrovia City Hall, said among others things that one of her contributions to society was recommending Madam Gbowee to an unspecified international partner that provided US$450,000 to Madam Gbowee for capacity building in Liberia.

Madam Gbowee reacted angrily, saying it would be a disservice to the work she does and what she stands for if she failed to publicly address Macdella Cooper’s comments which she finds offensive and misleading.

“I am a firm supporter of women’s rights, women’s political participation, and women’s empowerment in Liberia, over the years,” the Nobel laureate said in a statement. “I have joined hands with Liberian women to ensure an increase in female political participation as there is a strong need for a gender-balanced society”.

She added: “However, I believe it would be a disservice to the work I do, more importantly, what I stand for if I do not publicly address Macdella Cooper’s comments at the Women’s Candidate Town Hall Meeting.”

She recalled that that on June 25, 2019, Macdella Cooper stated that as a means to financially and economically empower women in Liberia, she introduced Gbowee to a donor, who, in turn, gave her USD 450,000 on behalf of the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET).

“Contrary to Ms. Cooper’s comments, no donor has ever donated any money to me for WIPNET. Since my departure from WIPENT in 2005, I have not solicited any money on behalf of WIPNET,” she clarified.

Although Madam Cooper did not give the name of or location of the of her international partner she claimed she had recommended Madam Gbowee to, the Nobel Peace Laureate said it was not Cooper that recommended her to a US-based family foundation.

The Nobel Peace laureate clarified, “Ms. Cooper did not introduce me to a US-based family foundation back in 2012, 7 years after she parted ways with WIPNET but that after a rigorous process, her foundation, the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (GPFA) was awarded an unrestricted grant of $225,000 in 2012-2017.

As a Liberian NGO, the Nobel laureate said, GPFA undergoes thorough financial audits each year and financial partners are acknowledged in our annual reports.

She said transparency is critically important in politics, even more so when it comes to money, adding, “I believe the above clarification is vital to ensure that the record is correct. I am proud of the work we do at Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa to raise the next generation of peace-builders and democratic leaders.”

At a meeting organized by the Organization For Women and Children aimed at bringing female candidates together to discuss their contributions in society and their platforms in the Montserrado County by-elections, a drama erupted between Ms. Cooper and Madam Gbowee when Madam Gbowee engaged Candidate Cooper in reaction to a statement made by the senatorial hopeful to the effect that she had recommended Gbowee to her international partner that gave Gbowee US$450,000 for capacity building in Liberia.

Following Madam Cooper’s assertion, the meeting was disrupted when Nobel Peace Laureate Gbowee entered the hall to issue a disclaimer to what she termed as misleading information provided at the program against her by Montserrado County senatorial candidate Cooper.

Madam Gbowee hungrily arrived at the theater of the Monrovia City Hall, took the microphone from the Master of Ceremony and firstly introduced herself to the audience and said she was compelled to move to the podium to make clarity on Macdella Cooper’s assertions.

Efforts are being made by this paper to get further clarification from Candidate Cooper on her allegation that she recommended Madam Gbowee to her international partner that in return gave USD450, 000 to Madam Gbowee.

The women meeting had former Chief Justice and Montserrado County, former Senator of Montserrado County Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, as one of the speakers. She urged the female candidates to be smart on Election Day speeches that do not matter but to go for votes that can make one to win.

The former Chief Justice said female candidates should deploy people who understand arithmetic to properly monitor the tallying process because there are lots of tricks during ballot counting on Election Day.

The meeting was part of Oxfam-ORWOCH’s activities embedded under the funding leadership opportunity for women projection 2019, which seeks to increase women’s participation in democratic processes.

The Organization for Women and Children will train 20 young women to monitor violence during the July  8, 2019 Montserrado senatorial and District #15 by- elections, with the aim to support young women to take collective actions to realize their civil and political rights through awareness, skills and confidence building  in safe spaces for women participation.

Oxfam-ORWOCH will host training, using the vote without violence toolkit to further enhance their skill to monitor the by-elections.

In addition, Oxfam-ORWOCH will engage five civil society organizations to publicly create awareness and influence voters on women’s political participation and violence against women in politics.

The National Elections Commission’s data project 159 women participants in the 2017 elections;  yet, ORWOCH roundtable discussions under ‘flow documents’ constitutes higher cases of violence Against Women in Elections (VAWE) in previous times has a number of women becoming aware and empowered to take positive actions.

It is necessary that actions are taken to build the capacity of young women to recognize and document VAWE for future policy actions, Cllr. Gloria Scott told the gathering of women.

She said ORWOCH will also include five women CSOs who will be trained and supported to carry out political campaigning on women political participation WPP and DVB.

The proposed program is designed to achieve the following enhancement of the skills of young women to recognize VAWE elections monitoring, to raise awareness on the importance of electing women to vote, to support young women in taking collective action to realize their civic and political rights.

It is also intended to influence young women awareness skill and confidence in safe spaces, to enable young women to be drivers and agents of change, and to build their individual and collective power to claim more space for participation amongst others.