The National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs in collaboration with Search for Common Ground /Talking Drum Studio has organized a one day candidate forum with the theme: ‘’Ep Bil Salone Wit Uman Dem’’ for female candidates of the upcoming local council elections at the Eastern Polytechnic canteen along Combema road in Kenema. The forum aimed at creating a platform for female candidates in Kenema to give their manifesto statement to their electorate and also provide the electorate the opportunity to engage them on issues arising out of their manifesto statements.
In her contribution and giving the purpose of the forum Dr. Miria Matembe a Consultant and also a former Member of Parliament in Uganda said training for women had been held in the past and most of them present were at the training. She disclosed that they have not yet finished their programme for the women and that their commitment is to see that the ordinary Sierra Leoneans get on the right path in terms of democracy. She congratulated them for coming this far because some of them were able to come out and make their representation felt and in making the parliamentary election very successful.
But unfortunately only 17 females out of the 124 members of parliament took part and it was a very small percentage she said. “We are so serious in strengthening the participation of women in politics and governance” adding “It is not just the sheer matter of equality and equity it is the real issue of good economic and social development for Sierra Leone – unless the women of Sierra Leone participate in the decision-making organ of the state you will not develop.”
“And because you need good governance and democracy in order to get on the rightful road to development” she went on “You could not have a complete and meaningful democracy without the participation of one half of the population you cannot move forward.” She encouraged all to go out and vote for the women so that there may be a difference in the management of Sierra Leone. She formerly introduced the candidates to the audience saying “there has never been a day like this in Kenema where women candidates come to talk to the public during electioneering process.”
She described the day as historic where in the women candidates come out to talk to the public and tell them please give us your votes we can make a difference. “Women make politics more human related” she noted.
She appealed to the people to vote in the women, when it comes to the local government elections, “choose somebody who will bring such a change to you” urging them “Please don’t be intimidated don’t be swallowed, try the women they will make a difference. I am here to give you evidence because they have made a difference in my country and in other parts of Africa and Europe where they have participated.”
Mr. Abubakar Tailu of the Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) moderated the forum na dhe also encouraged the participants to be courageous and not to attack any personality but to be fair to their conscience.
Each candidate was allowed to present her manifesto and at the end of it all questions were posed to them from the audience and they all responded to allay the fears of the public.
APC, PMDC, SLPP and Independent candidates were in attendance.