December 15, 2017 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
With support from Irish Aid and Christian Aid, the Social Enterprise and Development (SEND), together with Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), has facilitated a national advocacy for women’s participation in governance in the eastern region of Sierra Leone.
To enhance that move, Women of Kailahun, Kenema, and Kono Districts, who wanted to run for various positions in 2018, on 13th December, 2017, converged at the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall, headquarters of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) on Campbell Street in Freetown to present a position paper on their dreams and aspirations in the fourth coming multi-tier elections.
Presenting the position Paper on behalf of Eastern Women in Governance Network, Mary Wuyatta Karimu, said women account for 51% of the total population, but that they were disappointed that their active participation in the political and Socio-economic life is less than 15%.
‘’We are following the electoral process with kin interest and realise that as women standing together ,we are in good position to strongly recommend an outcome that resonates with our aspirations,” she said.
The eastern women’s position paper called on all political parties, no matter their size, to acquaint themselves with the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA) and take the necessary steps to ensure women have equal access to leadership and decision making structures.
Meanwhile, Mary Wuyatta Karimu called on the police and government to ensure that women have the necessary protection to participate in electoral processes.
Chairperson of the programme, Fatou Taqi, who is also the president of 50/50 group, said women should not give up until their aspiration of 30% quota is passed into law, adding that it was only when it becomes law that they would be able to take legal actions against the government.
She commended SEND, NMJD and partners for a good job in pursuing the enhancement of women’s political participation in the country.
Country Manager, Christian Aid Sierra Leone, Jeanne Kamara, said they wanted to change the mindset of people concerning the power of women and their impact on the society.
She said they have been working with SEND and NMJD through their donor partner-Irish Aid for the empowerment of women in governance.
‘’I will not give up on the development of the country. Women have the power to change the world,” she said.
Madam Kamara said women’s participation was very key to the development of democratic good governance in the country.
She expressed hope that political parties would award symbols to female candidates in the March 2018 elections.
Also speaking was NMJD’s Chief, Abu Brima, who noted that good governance, inclusive participation and respect for citizen’s voice were the factors for a democratic country.
‘’What is happening with our democracy? What is happening with our democracy is an affront,” he expressed.
He said NMJD was committed to bringing about transformation in the country and thanked Irish Aid, and Christian Aid for supporting them in their empowerment drive.
SEND Country Director, Joseph Ayamga, said women must pursue to realise their dreams.
‘’Remember that despite the discrimination you have faced for so long ,you always have the choice to pursue the dreams from your heart,” he said.