Portrait: Yvette Chesson-Wureh - “A strong woman is a better world”

“The role of women in stopping political a tension is crucial and it has already begun, this is why you don’t see as many people on the streets demonstrating”, adds the militant for whom “no seat is worth the blood of anyone”.

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As part of the celebration of International Women’s Day, we feature outstanding personalities whose determination to fight for women’s emancipation should be applauded. Yvette Chesson-Wureh is one of them. She came to Uganda to open a women crisis centre dubbed the Women Situation Room, during the 2016 general elections, and that is where we met her.

You have to be equipped with a think notepad before you can start listening to Yvette Chesson-Wureh of Liberia. Kind words, anecdotes and testimonies abound when this inveterate feminist begins to tell her story. A granddaughter of a President, a descendant of the founding fathers of Liberia, this lawyer by profession continues in her seemingly inexhaustible daily struggle for the emancipation of women from all over the world.

Robbed of her father who was assassinated together with the President of the Republic in the 1980 Samuel Doe coup d’état, advocacy for women was not the immediate choice for a lady who describes herself as someone “very passionate about peace”.

“My mother was a pioneer for women’ rights and yet I told myself that I would never be like her, that I would never end up there”, says the coordinator of Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for women empowerment, an influential Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Liberia. It was while defending the less privileged children in the United States at the University of Northern Carolina, that she discovered the situation of their often discriminate mothers.

It was therefore more of personal trajectories than historical figures that led Yvette Chesson-Wureh on the path of feminism action. Stories like that of a 17-year old compatriot who one day asked her for a calendar of the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as she was moving out of a meeting with the President.

“There was nobody to mentor her after 20 years of civil war, she recalls. But this simple calendar made her realize everyday as she looks at her wall, that a lady was also cable of leading a country”.

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Her life is about leadership and commitment. A member of the Supreme Court of the United States, member of the association of Liberia Womem Advoctes and previously judge in charge of elections in the State of Maryland (USA), she came to the limelight in 2009 when she founded the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International. Peace and Security, together with her President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Finish Head of State TarjaHalonen.

“All the leaders that we are must tackle and understand the issue of gender”, she repeats to the women she meets.

And there was also this land dispute in Liberia, which was quite a revelation for her. When she was called upon to mediate, she realized that the men in attendance could not properly trace the history of the land in question. They had to wait for hours of debate before a lady took to the floor and began to describe in detail the situation of the land over the years, with precision!

“We are not politically awake, regrets Yvette Chesson-Wureh. I want women to realize that we are the wives, the sisters and the daughters who can change Africa”. As a remedy, in 2011 she created an electoral crisis centre in her country, the Women Situation Room, to document incidents of violence during the elections.
She is familiar with Uganda where she heads the women’s NGO Isis-WICCE (Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange). She has naturally supervised the establishment of the WSR in Uganda. An admirer of pacifism and patience of Ugandans, Yvette Chesson-Wureh went out to meet the political representatives from all sides in order to preserve what is most dear to her, peace, an ideal she will continue to defend for as long as the 1415 incidents reported to the Women Situation Room during the last elections in Uganda remain a concern to her, just like the arrests of some opposition leaders.

“The role of women in stopping political a tension is crucial and it has already begun, this is why you don’t see as many people on the streets demonstrating”, adds the militant for whom “no seat is worth the blood of anyone”.

To understand such a personality, you need to see her boundless optimism. Without relenting, she repeats as if it were her motto, “women need mentors, they have to wake up!”

Dernière modification : 12/10/2016

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