Representative from PMDC and APC were in attendance yesterday at the dialogue forum on the election of female ward committee members, convened by the Campaign for Good Governance in collaboration with the Christian Aid Organization, but there was no presence of an SLPP representative to give their stance on women emancipation in governance.
Talking on women participation in decision making, Madam Mary Rogers of the Decentralization Secretariat gave a flash back of the local government ACT 2004 and the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone which guaranteed the full participation of women in decisions that affect their lives.
She specifically pointed out to section 95 and 96 of the local government ACT which mandated the formation of the ward committee with a composition of 10 members and 5 of which must be women.
“Ward committee is a smallest political unit of the local government structure that is recognized by the local government ACT” she said.
She explained that the ward committee plays an important role in fostering community development initiatives in all the 19 local councils of the country.
Ward committee members she maintained are required by the local government ACT to undertake various functions such as community resource mobilization for rapid development programmes in the community; developing project proposal on community development initiatives; fostering dialogue and consultation among residents of the various wards; generating or mobilizing much needed revenue in the community and to educate them on the importance of tax.
There were a series of concerns raised among participants of the various representation present with regard the selection process of the ward committee members; the level of education of the committee members and remuneration to boost their work, but Mary Rogers maintained that there is a provision for capacity building but noted that there is no remuneration for any committee member.
“Ward committee members should meet regularly before and after every council meeting to deliberate on pertinent issues regarding community development initiatives” she stated.
“Ward committee members are the focal persons in every locality and must be competent enough to understand conceptual issues such as good governance issues.
She concluded that there is no policy on the local government ACT but that they were working on a policy that would fast tract development in the respective communities in the country.
Representatives of PMDC Esther Panda stated that development would be hindered if the capacity of women are not built to be able to participate in decisions that would improve on their lives.
She noted that in the 21st Century they should look for women with basic education so as to motivate people towards community development adding that PMDC view women as partners in development.
She recommended that women in the rural community should be provided with adult education so that they would form part of the national development drive because they form the bulk of the populace.
Representative of the Ministry of Social Welfare Susan Sesay noted that they have conducted a number of training programmes on the development and incorporation of women throughout the country.
She added that not all women in high places are not gender considerate as they look low on down trodden women.
By Solomon Rogers