Grassroots Empowerment for Self Reliance (GEMS) in collaboration with Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) has held a one day Regional post election-briefing workshop for thirty female candidates of local government elections held July 2008 from Kono, Kenema and Kailahun districts with the Theme: Empowering Women for better Governance.
The programme is being funded by Canada fund for local initiative.
Giving an overview of the workshop the Programme coordinator Grassroots Empowerment for Self Reliance Catherine Greenwood first welcomed the participants and appealed to them to be open minded and work with a spirit of oneness as they go through the deliberations of the workshop.
She said this is the first time in the history of the country for women to challenge the men by coming out in their numbers in order to take position in the political circle. She said the workshop is just a capacity building workshop for female candidates from PMDC, SLPP, APC and Independent. She added that the workshop is to get their opinion about the post elections briefing during nominations, campaigning and polling day, and also the role of civil society organizations/ media, political parties, traditional authorities, stakeholders like NEC, PPRC and Police before, during and after the elections; all with the aim of encouraging more women to come on board the political race for better elections in 2012.
Sharing their experiences with the workshop about obstacles to women’s participation in the just concluded election, participants revealed that; traditional rulers interference into the election was too high in the areas of symbol allocation, taking side and campaigning on behalf of political party; Political parties did not finance and did not join the women to campaign; All women of both parties and independent did not join together to support the women candidates to win the election; Women were harassed by political parties to step down from the race; Few women are represented in the party executive; Local authorities were threatening candidates during the process; Some areas were no go areas for some female candidates; The media, civil society, PPRC and NEC did not go down to the remote places; Some women received party symbol because of their hard work among others; At the end of the workshop it was suggested among others the following; Candidature fees to be reduce or wipe out for female candidates; 20 to 30% of the party symbol to be given to women; NEC to have stood firm to retain symbol that have been allocated to women; Local authorities to be neutral; Political parties to go down into the communities before allocation of party symbols; Number of observers to increase to cover all stations; NEC voting centers to be revisited and consider distance; Security forces to be neutral in discharge of their duties; NEC, PPRC, Civil Societies and the Press to monitor all process; Political parties to increase the number of women in their political party executive; Electoral college not to be bias; Information and material meant for candidates and the electorates must meet them on time; Boundary delimitation must be made know to candidates well ahead of time; And women must be financed during the political struggle.In her vote of thanks Fatmata Sannoh of the Kailahun district council thanked participants for their role in putting women on the political map of the country. She thanked the organizers and donor agencies for their support