Achieving gender equity remains a challenge in Sierra Leone. Women are confronted with limited access to decision-making processes, and access to and control of resources. Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) focus on improving women’s health, political, social and economic rights in Sierra Leone. On Monday 16th December, Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) held a high-level meeting on GEWE policy with female MP’s and community leaders at the District Women’s Fellowship Multipurpose Hall, in Freetown. CGG Programs Manager, Sahr Kendema explained that the GEWE policy has not been concluded by Cabinet and “we know the relevance of this document when approved especially to women. We want to see a situation where in 2023 political parties have no choice but to have a minimum 30% of women in politics and in decision making processes.” Further explaining that, “this has to do with appointment and the issuing out of symbols because when once this document is adopted by parliament, the next advocacy is for us to have a bill which will be subsequently enacted come 2023 when political parties would be submitting their candidates. Political Parties Registration Commission would be looking at adherence to the policy by the number of women they put up for elective positions.” He said, this would change the dynamics, “instead of women chasing political parties for candidature for elective positions, political parties would now be chasing women in order to meet the PPRC criteria.”
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CGG Executive Director, Marcella Samba Sesay said it is very important to mention that we have had the GEWE policy for a while and we do not want to move into 2020 without concrete steps as to how the policy should be enacted. “The plight of women over the years have remained the same and tangible actions need to be taken to up the status of women across the board. When it comes to representation, when it comes to economic empowerment, when it comes to women safety and security, when it comes to women access to energy and so forth, the plight of women in Sierra Leone, especially those outside the urban towns, is really deplorable,” she lamented. Marcella said, “we need to ensure that we have the required policy environment for the kind of transformation we are aiming at and also ensure that the policy is translated into a law.” She said, “if you look at the policy environment and you find-out the context is so challenging that the policy is not applicable what can be done in the shortest possible time is to actualize some of the suggestions in the policy they’ve put forward, what can be done to make it happen.” The Director of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Charles Vandy said we missed an opportunity in 2011, “we started talking about affirmative action on the eve of the elections.” However, he said “if we have this policy now followed by the affirmation law come 2020 political parties would now have the time to internalize what is required before the 2023 elections.” Notwithstanding, he pointed out “if we continue at a snail pace until 2022 it is going to be another missed opportunity.”
By Ophaniel Gooding
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