Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – UN Women Sierra Leone organized a National Conference focusing on Women’s Participation in the 2023 Elections from the 10th to the 11th of October, 2023. The event brought together dignitaries, representatives from various organizations, and government officials to discuss the achievements and challenges of women in Sierra Leone’s politics.
Madam Setcheme Jeronime M. Mongbo, the Head of Office at UN Women Sierra Leone, opened the conference with welcoming remarks, expressing her delight at hosting the event and appreciating the support of the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Sierra Leone.
A key highlight of the conference was the recognition of the Election Basket Donors – Ireland, European Union, Canada, Iceland, and the UNDP – whose support played a vital role in enhancing Women’s Political Participation (WPP) throughout the election process. Panel discussions were held on various topics, including the role of political parties in advancing WPP, the engagement of civil society, the promotion of WPP in Sierra Leone, the electoral legal framework, gender-sensitive reporting, and the role of security agencies.
Madam Mongbo underscored the achievements and progress made in women’s participation in parliament and local councils. She stated that 30.4% of Ordinary Members in Parliament were women, and when considering the Paramount Chiefs, women constituted 28.2% of total parliamentary members. “In local councils, 34% of elected councillors were women, with some regions surpassing the 30% mark set by the GEWE Act,” she added. However, she noted that significant challenges remained. “In mayoral positions, only one female mayor was elected, representing just 14% of mayors, falling below the GEWE Act’s threshold of at least 30% female representation.”
Despite these challenges, Madam Mongbo emphasized Sierra Leone’s progress in enhancing WPP and leadership, highlighting the significance of the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) Act signed in 2022. The Act aims to eliminate discrimination against women and empower them to participate fully in all aspects of society.
The conference stressed the importance of continued advocacy for gender equality measures in policy-making and practices. UN Women is committed to working closely with the government, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to address gender imbalances, improve access to finance, and promote equal capacity-building opportunities across all sectors.
The event concluded with concrete actionable recommendations and interventions to bridge the gaps in GEWE Act implementation and ensure the sustained progress of WPP in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment aligns with the global agenda outlined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Beijing Platform for Action. By promoting women’s equal participation in decision-making processes, Sierra Leone aims to achieve sustainable development and lasting peace.
With continued collaboration and concerted efforts from all stakeholders, the nation remains hopeful that women’s voices will be fully represented in the political, economic, and social spheres. PSN/17/10/2023