Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a candid revelation, Ambassador Soulay Daramy, Chairman of the Strategic Advisory Team at the Elections Observer Network (EON), stated that Sierra Leone lacks sufficient education on the electoral process. Ambassador Daramy made these remarks during a presentation at the conference hall of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) on Tower Hill in Freetown, on Wednesday, January 31, 2024.
The presentation was part of a gender audit sponsored by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), focusing on gender-inclusive practices in the June 2023 elections. Ambassador Daramy emphasized the necessity of scrutinizing the ECSL, given its mandate to ensure gender diversity in political party lists.
The Strategic Advisory Team’s findings highlighted a significant gender imbalance within the ECSL staff, revealing that approximately 80% are male, falling short of the required 30% quota for women by 10%, as mandated by the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) Act.
EON proposed several recommendations, including a review of ECSL’s hiring and internal gender policy practices, consideration of affirmative action, development of staff capacity-building programs, and the collection of comprehensive data on permanent and temporary staff, to be made public.
Ambassador Daramy clarified that EON operates as a citizen’s organization, not a parallel entity to ECSL, focused on ensuring active participation of Sierra Leoneans in the electoral process.
Expressing gratitude to ECSL for allowing the gender audit, Samuel Patrick Mattia, Executive Director of EON, affirmed their commitment to sustaining research efforts on electoral education. He mentioned their willingness to provide recommendations on pertinent issues if adequate finances are secured.
Upon receiving the report, Mohamed Konneh, Chief Electoral Officer of ECSL, acknowledged the open-door policy and collaboration with EON. He appreciated the recommendations and recommended exploring legal amendments to enhance women’s representation in the country.
Mohamed Ibrahim Konneh, Resident Senior Program Director of NDI, acknowledged the long road to achieving gender equality in Sierra Leone. He expressed hope that the research findings would stimulate conversations on this crucial matter.
Abdulai Bangura, Esq, Chair of the Political Parties Regulation Commission (PPRC), thanked EON for their observations and assured that the PPRC would diligently address recommendations related to their organization. SKS/1/2/2024