The first lady, Sia Koroma over the weekend commended the 50/50 group at the Victoria Park during an advocacy programme for women’s involvement in politics.
“The 50/50 group has made tremendous progress in highlighting the need for equal participation in representative office. Your campaign as your name categorically states calls for a fifty-fifty split in terms of participation and representation in public office. You know my position on this I support this course whole heartedly,” said Mrs Koroma.
Quoting former British Prime Minister – Margaret Thatcher – the first lady said, “if you need to say something as a man, when you need something done ask a woman,” adding that she is “in no doubt that the 50/50 organisation has encouraged the types of women who get things done to come forward to support the overall development of our country.”
For this, Mrs Koroma said, “I expressed my thanks and gratitude to them and on my behalf and on behalf of every Sierra Leonean woman. It is important to ensure that this country benefits from the collective efforts of every citizen. If this is to happen, then it is imperative to give equal access to women as they try to make their own contribution,” she said.
“The issue of gender equality is sometimes closely aligned with politics. In my mind the politics of gender equality starts when sensible people recognize that you need to occupy a position because they are the best person for the position and nothing else,” she explained.
Gender inequality, the first lady pointed out “is therefore corruption because it supports a notion that a wrong person can occupy a position when a better more qualified person is deliberately left out because she is a woman.”
The first lady noted, “Our society has a way of creating barriers especially for women. This will restrict the aspiration for some of us to the extent that we are pushed to living unfulfilled lives this not good for the country, or indeed our husbands because they would bear the brunt of our frustrations,” she stressed.
As a nation, Mrs Koroma explained, “we should find ways of ensuring that every citizen’s contribution will be sought out and valued.”
The first lady explained that recently she “visited China on the invitation of the All China’s Women Federation. This visit opens my eyes to the rights that progressive women can attain in a society and the benefit to that society as every citizen is given the chance to achieve their potential,” she disclosed.
“There is no reason why Sierra Leonean women should not work side by side Sierra Leonean men so as to build our nation,” the first lady said.
She explained her husband’s call on the nation to change its attitude and behaviour in order that “we can achieve a meaningful development for this country. I support this vision of my husband, as I believe that if attitudinal and behavioural change is to be meaningful our country will reap the benefit, women will be encouraged to take a fuller part in nation building,” she said.
“A change in attitude means that men will no longer restrict the involvement of women for selfish and meaningless reasons. Women on the other hand will accept their responsibility to the nation and thereby get involved in local and national politics. I want to see an increase in the involvement of women in both local and national elections; this will make it easier for the concerns of the ordinary people to be taken more seriously into account. It is for this reason that I support women in elected office,” she stressed.