February 15, 2018 By Memunatu Bangura
50/50 Group, in collaboration with National Organisation for Women (NOW-SL) and other women’s organization, with funds from UN Women, has yesterday launched the Sierra Leone Women’s Manifesto at their headquarters on OAU Drive, Tower Hill in Freetown.
Founding President of 50/50 Group, Dr. Nemata Majesk-Walker, said the Sierra Leone Women’s Manifesto represents the voice of Sierra Leonean women from various women’s organisations and from all sixteen districts in the country.
She said this year’s manifesto was launched after a two -day deliberation, review, update and validation of the 2002 and 207 manifestos.
Dr. Majesk-Walker said some of the topics in the manifesto included women, conflict, peace, security; women democracy and governance; women education, training and women with specialty, among others.
Chairperson of the ceremony, DR. Fredline McCormack-Hale, said women continue to struggle in order to make their voices heard and be taken seriously by politicians, adding that the number of women in parliament has declined successively since 2002 when it was 14.5%, 13% and 21.1% in the last parliament
Dr. McCormack explained that the Citizen’s manifesto called for political parties to give 40% allocation to women but that none of the major parties met even the thirty percent threshold, except Unity party.
She stated that the Women’s manifesto was a call to look into women issues through discussing their desires and needs in the economy, environment and in politics, adding that the manifesto sets out areas in which women would evaluate party platforms, as well as the policies of government that would win the March 7 election.
According to her, it was time for women to realise the strength they wield and that no party could win without their support.
The chairperson urged women to use their vote wisely and make sure to vote for a party that would address women’s concerns and needs, and hoped that the commitment within the manifesto would be noted by all political and political candidates and implemented in the next administration.
President of 50/50 Group, Dr. Fatou Taqi, said the improvements attained in the past decades since the publication of the current manifesto, were acknowledged and recognized, while their invaluable inputs have informed the review process, guiding the researchers and writers in the production of the reviewed Women’s Manifesto 2018.
Delivering the keynote address, UN Women Country Representative, Dr. Mary Ukumu, said the 50/50 Group Women’s Manifesto was significant because it primed on human rights, which is a tool that operationalised and make practical by equipping Sierra Leonean women with practical skills necessary to stand for political positions at all levels.
She explained that as a tool for enhancing women’s equal representation and participation in governance, the spirit of the manifesto was rooted in the global and Africa regional governance and public decision-making domain in the country.
Dr. Okumu said the modules in the manifesto made it possible for aspiring women politicians- both at the national and local authority levels- to exercise their social and political right without discrimination or exclusion, adding that the manifesto was also a tool for enhancing civil liberties and rights and gender equality in political elections.
She said the manifesto was an inspiration to all women whether as voters or aspirants in the general elections, because it consolidates and brings out the critical inter-linkage and the nexus between all the provisions on women issues.