Those Who Want To Make Me Seem Less Than I Am Are Mistaken, Says Liberia’s Vice President
-Been Committed To Women's Empowerment For 20 Years
By Michael Adeboboye
The Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Jewel Howard Taylor, in an interview with the press has said that those who were trying to make her seemed less than she was were wrong.
The former first lady and Leader of Liberia’s Senate also said that she had been committed to women’s empowerment for over 20 year, adding that few people who she had had contact with but were alleged of wrongdoings didn’t define her.
According to her “The truth is that, I am not a perfect person nor an angel. In fact, no human being is perfect. But if I dare to think beyond your question, on a scale of 1 to 10; I would give myself an 8. I can say in my own defense that I am a woman with a good heart, who has the fear of God, who because of my belief system has remain in the trenches fighting for womens’ educational, political and economic empowerment for over 20 years.
“This is by the grace of God. I believe that I am a good role model and an example of a good citizen. I continue to try to be a great sibling, mother and grandmother. I strive to be a committed and dedicated social worker – doing my best to provide opportunities for females (a job I have done for over 20 years); and I am a loyal and committed friend. But key to your question is: Have I made mistakes in my life? YES indeed, as all men born of a woman. Have those mistakes determined the choices I make or determined who I am? NO. For I have a central compass which guides my steps. Though I have stumbled and fallen many times; I know that challenges are only stepping stones for learning and becoming wiser.
” Sadly, as it is in life today ; women are adjudged more harshly than their male colleagues in similar circumstances. Let’s look at a few issues. (a). Some issues being raised about me in some quarters are about me having some friends with shady characters. I want to note that in the journey of life, each one meets many persons along their journey; the bad, the good, the ugly, the beautiful, the brilliant, the simple, the cowardly, the brave, the friends for life and those for a moment. This entire spectrum makes up the Kaleidoscope of ones life. This year I have turned 60 years old, I now have before me less years that what has past.
” As a result, I have met, engaged, collaborated and interacted with maybe over 30,000 persons. The picture to see is that – if I have in my journey met 3 or 4 persons who may have a shady character or have been accused of one crime or the other – is it fair to judge my entire life, including all the great impact I have made in the lives of many, especially females across the globe; as being a woman with questionable character thus unworthy to stand where I am in this time in history? I believe that this is the thrust of those who cast doubt about who I am. But I am of the opinion that a person’s life should be characterized by a sum total of all they are. And not on some hateful unsubstantiated rumor or allegations that because I have friends who may or may not be “so called good citizens” – that means i am a sham and pretending to be good. My life has been an open book since I became Liberia’s First Lady in 1997 up till now and believe that my records speak for me.
” Clearly, the laws which guard our society, makes it civilized sets one cardinal rule “That all are considered innocent until proven guilty” and it goes further to say that no one should be accused for the crimes of others. I think that those who want to make me seem less than i am are mistaken.
“I have many friends, acquaintances and others i have met casually; but allow me to clear the air this once; that my life and the positive activities i have and continue to be involved in tell the story of who i am and show the positive impact on the lives of others (not only members of my family), this positive history cannot be erased. i am a simple woman, with a deep passion to doing all within my power to make a positive difference in my generation, especially for females; and one who is determined to leave a trans generational impact on my world. Let me also state that i, as a woman, have had challenges, disappointments, losses, triumphs, victories. I have shed tears and laughed until i felt as if my sides would burst open. I have seen and experienced joys and sadness; and have had both valley and mountain top experiences. But through it all, by the special grace and mercy of the Almighty God, i have lived an impactful 60 years and the fruits of my contributions to society shows my heart and sets the true value of my life.
“I only hope and pray that this interview will lay bare the facts of my life and state that the rumors, are mere conjectures and stories, only an attempt to try to discount my story, thinking that by doing so, it will be sent to the dust bins of history and perhaps discount the fact that I am as a strong impactful African female.
“But this situation reminds me of the Poem by Maya Angelou – I RISE; which I kindly ask you to print for the readers: You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt but still, like dust, I’ll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, with the certainty of tides, just like hopes springing high, still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard’ cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines digging’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise that i dance like I’ve got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain. I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear. I rise bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave. I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.”
Speaking about her advocacy for the protection of the girl child and women empowerment, the assessment of the progress Africa is making in respect to womens’ political empowerment
“Indeed, there is much to be grateful for, for Africa has come a long way, from keeping women in the back rooms, to allowing them to sit to listen, to allowing them to add their voices, to allowing them to participate and today in many areas, allowing them to begin to lead.
“The truth is that, though we are moving forward, it is a very slow process. But in the past 25 years, much has changed for which we are grateful. Our dream is that someday, very soon, it will no longer be a discussion here and there or cajoling our male counterparts to see reason, or begging them to do what is only right but all African Nations will be as it is in Rwanda.
“During that day, it will be a generally accepted way of life. With both genders working together to build a more peaceful and sustainable world.
“Howbeit, I admit this process requires the full support of all women. This process is the collective work of strong relay runners. Ones who understand what is at stake, those determined to work, not until they are tired but until they change the trajectory and showcase the importance of women in this journey and remaining committed and staying in the race till we reach our goal. There is still much more to be done. Until child marriage is nonexistent, FGM is abhorred by all Nations (as this practice is till being done in so called civilized nations of the west), until both genders are treated equally and not stigmatized by societal and traditional norms and until all the shackles which hold women back are removed. This is the cause for which we remain committed” she said.