January 12, 2018 By Memunatu Bangura
As part of their ten-year anniversary celebration, Women in the Media-Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) yesterday organised a one day symposium for members, women in different political parties and women organisations on women’s participation in politics.
The symposium took place at the British Council auditorium in partnership with Search for Common Ground’s Standing Together for Democracy Consortium, themed: ‘Strengthening Democracy, Promoting Women’s Participation and Inclusion in March 2018 Elections.’
President of WIMSAL Tiana Alpha said her organisation does not only seek to build the capacity of its membership but also serves as a pressure group that promotes the rights of women and girls in general.
According to her, increasing women’s participation and inclusion in politics was not only a matter of government policy, private sector or social change, but a crucial mark which must be seen as a role play for all women.
Ms. Alpha said the media landscape in the country was fast growing, but that there was abundant evidence that sometimes the media do not portray women candidates in a positive light, and seldom create space to let political parties know what women can offer.
She applauded the presidential candidate of the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP), Mohamed K Mansaray, for choosing a woman as his running mate for the March presidential election, adding that as nominations and the award of symbols are underway it was important for women to be selected or elected in specific positions.
She pleaded with female media practitioners to contribute to minimising under-representation of women on local and national issues of governance, narrow the gap between men and women in political representation through effective media advocacy and in their reportage by ensuring that women and their issues are promoted.
Delivering the keynote address, Team Leader Standing Together for Democracy Consortium, Dr. Mahmoud Tarawallie said women have a lot of positive contributions in the political arena of the country and in the upcoming elections.
Speaking on the topic ‘This nonsense has to stop,’ he maintained that it was time for women to take the front stage of politics in the country.
Dr. Tarawallie noted that over the years women have been excluded from the forefront of affairs, adding that sometimes such was as a result of financial constraints and other obstacles.
According to him, the time was ripe for women to take their rightful position in the political space and show that ‘what a man can do a woman is also capable to do same.’
In a panel discussion, panelists spoke on various topics, including profiling women candidates, has the media made progress and what can be done?, role of media in strengthening democracy and women’s participation and inclusion in March 2018 elections.