America and Sierra Leone have one thing in common: both of our government meetings are tedious and both have yet to elect a female president.
I went to a meeting of parliament today with my colleague Ishmael. I was excited to witness the inner workings of Sierra Leone’s government and as I sat through the hour-long session, I realized I wasn’t missing much. Having been a reporter on my state’s legislative process back home, I am familiar with the dullness that government procedure consists of. The ceremonial openings, the announcement of dozens of lawmakers’ names, the constant sitting down, standing up, sitting down, standing up whenever someone of importance enters the chamber. Not to mean that I didn’t gain anything from it; my reporting helped me finally understand how my state’s legislative process works and it was exciting to interview various lawmakers about the next new law that could possibly change the lives of thousands of people in our state.
So just because I found Sierra Leone’s Parliament meeting boring doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate what I learned from it. Seven presidential nominees for 2012 were introduced. “Wow, running already?” I thought. But considering where I live, it’s no surprise at all that people are planning early; rumor has it that Sarah Palin has quit being governor in order to plot for president of 2012
Two of Sierra Leone’s nominees were female. I learned from Ishmael that Sierra Leone, like the United States, has yet to elect a female president. I hope that our first isn’t Sarah Palin.
A small bit of joy would leap in my heart as I scanned the circular room and spotted a female member of parliament, or MP. That was a relief for a country with a negative image of women’s rights. But I also noticed that I could count the number of women on my hands. The men were the majority of Parliament, by far.
So throughout that hour of tedium, I did get something worthy out if it: I saw the democratic workings of a government just seven years out of a violent civil war. I saw women in positions that they probably never would have reached a few decades earlier. I saw two women who could become the next president of Sierra Leone. If one of them is elected in 2012, then I can brag to my friends that I was in the same room as the first female president of Sierra Leone.