April 28, 2015
Commissioner of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), Alhaji Muctarr B. Williams, has assured members of the All Political Parties Women Association (APPWA) of his commission’s support in the realisation of their recommendations made in the constitutional review process.
He made this commitment at the end of a two days sensitization on the constitutional review process held in Bo on Tuesday 21st April for the south and eastern regions.
He encouraged the group to ensure that their various political parties include in their respective constitutions a gender policy that will allow women to be involved in the decision making processes of their parties.
In his statement, Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee, Justice Edmond Cowan, appealed to the women to take the information gathered during the two days session to their womenfolk at the village and chiefdom level.
He also urged them to share their recommendations with those at the grassroots so that they too can make their contributions in the process.
In her statement, the facilitator of the session, who doubles as Minority Leader in Parliament, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, applauded the women for their contributions during the exercise.
She however informed them that not all their recommendations will be adopted into the amended constitution as there are existing laws that need to be strengthened.
Group discussion and presentation formed the highpoint of the sessions
In their presentation, group one looked at political participation. Their recommendations include: 30% quota for women in decision making processes and governance; PPRC to be given robust powers in ensuring that political parties create a level playing platform for women; and candidature fee is too high and women candidature fee should be quashed.
Group two looked at socio-economic empowerment, and their recommendations include:
* Free and compulsory education for all and penalties for violation
* Compulsory training for citizens who can’t afford to pay
* Establishment of a National Youth Service
* Social protection for women
* Emergency medical care
* Policy for the construction of low cost housing for low income earners
* Access to social security benefits by all
Group three looked at gender discrimination, and they recommended thus:
* The heading for Section 27 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone should be changed to equality and protection against discrimination.
* That under discrimination, pregnancy, marital status, health status, age, disability, conscience, language or birth should be added.
* To give full effect to the realisation of the rights guaranteed under this Article, the State shall take legislative and other measures, including affirmative action programmes and policies designed to redress any disadvantage suffered by individuals or groups because of past discrimination.
* In addition to the measures contemplated in this Article, the State shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender.
The session, which was held in Bo, brought together political party women from the southern and eastern regions. Similar exercises will be held in Freetown for the Western Area and the North on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th April respectively.
Meanwhile, the PPRC, in collaboration with Hope Sierra Leone, is undertaking a nationwide conflict resolution dialogue. The exercise, which was launched in Bo, brought together political party representatives, civil society activists and key stakeholders in the fight against Ebola.
In his statement, PPRC Commissioner Alhaji Muctarr B. Williams admonished political parties and other stakeholders to be sincere in their deliberations for the peace and development of Sierra Leone.
“This is the time for all to put party or personal interest aside and work towards the eradication of Ebola in the country,” he said.