April 20, 2018 By Jariatu S. Bangura
The ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party Member of Parliament, Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay, representing Constituency 94 in Moyamba district, has urged that more space should be for women’s inclusion in politics, thus expressing disappointment over the reduction in the percentage of female representation in Parliament.
“I really missed some of the honourable women that did not come back because we have to make new friends. After five years, we learnt and understood ourselves and as for the new ones, we will try to work together. We have to make new friends as this is a learning place and I do hope that we will work together as women and will work within the rules and regulations that govern the house,” she said.
Hon. Sesay noted that things are not easy for women in politics, stating that in the previous parliament had just 13% female representation and that the number has reduced to 10%.
“There are 17 women, inclusive of two female Paramount Chief Members of Parliament, which is a good start because we now have two female PCs as it was not easy for us to have such position,” she said.
The ruling party lawmaker admonished that female lawmakers should forget about partisan politics, even though some are afraid of section 77(k) of the 1991 constitution, a provision that a party could invoke to evict a recalcitrant lawmaker from parliament.
She advised female lawmakers to work as women and promote gender issues, adding that there are other women outside parliament that are willing to help them achieve their goals.
“I am lucky and fortunate because this is my third term. I came in when the SLPP was the ruling party and I want to retire again when it is in power. That is why I am happy and lucky to be back. It was not an easy task as a woman to win that seat as there were so many challenges. But what enticed me the most was the desire to help my party win that seat as the APC government had been yearning to have it,” she said.
She added that: “The people needed me as a woman based on my work in the other chiefdom and they were very much happy to receiving me as their candidate by then and were ready to work with me.”
The female Member of Parliament continued that she and her believe that they would be helped by their male counterparts and President Bio, who had expressed passion for women.
She called on First Lady Fatima Bio to plead with her husband to give primacy to women’s issues and promote them, adding that women could grapple with challenges to achieve gender equality.
“What I normally say is that it is the political parties that have failed the women of this country as they have not made them to achieve the 30 percent quota. Today, we have 10 percent and who knows what will be the fate for the next elections. Maybe, it would fall to five percent by the next elections, but I do hope that will not be the case. They failed to give winnable seats to women in their strongholds.
“I really think that it is easy to give us 30 percent. Let say they make provisions for 20 seats in the various districts for women. No matter who is given the symbol, they should win it at all cost. The former president promised to give us 30 percent, but all we now see is 10 percent, which is not good for us as women,” she maintained.
She encouraged the women’s caucus in parliament to join the fight for the promotion of women in good fate.
“We need to galvanise for women. We need not to bring it to parliament for voting to take place because the men will not support us achieve such as they will not want to lose their seats to a woman, but we need to push our course,” she said.
She noted that 52 percent of the country’s population constitutes women and that it is timely that female representatives push women’s agenda collectively.
Hon. Sesay recalled that during the induction of new MPs, the UNDP Representative expressed disappointment over the rate of gender inequality in the parliament.
“They are our partners and if we put our case forward, they will support us. I believe that before I retire we will achieve the 30 percent quota because I will lobby with everyone.
“We are going to continue to help enact gender, children and disabled laws as we are mothers. There are so many youngsters that are coming in as MPs. It is just a matter of time to explain to them the challenges and successes for such aims. If women are given positions they work hard as they are afraid and shy of embarrassment so they will have to work better,” she said.
She concluded that: “It would be very necessary for a woman to man the speakership position. The late Honourable Elizabeth Alpha-Lavalie was an example that did well when she took the Deputy Speaker position. We can do better if given the opportunity, but the only problem is the number of votes that women would have, hence the election would take place in parliament. There are so many women that are capable to handle that position.”