The United States ambassador to Sierra Leone, June Carter Perry, has urged Sierra Leoneans to be one people and nation so as to compete in global development.
She made this statement while delivering her keynote address on a programme launch: Ensuring Greater Inclusion of Women in the political process with the slogan Ep Bil Salone Wit Uman Dem! at the American embassy at Hill Station in Freetown.
The ambassador added that, “the programme will help Sierra Leone development system”, noting that the representation of women remained disapprobation compared to the percentage of women in the country.
She disclosed that Sierra Leone ranked 87 in terms of women’s representation in legislative bodies in the world.
June Perry maintained that when women took part in the decision making process, “more girls will be educated… there will be more infrastructures and more people will have access to safe drinking water”.
“It is high time people of Sierra Leone gave chance to women to address these issues,” said the ambassador.
The US ambassador stressed that if women were not pressed forward “our voices will not be heard,” and she encouraged men to advocate for women’s participation.
In her statement the country director of National Democratic Institute (NDI) for international Affairs, Honorine Muyoyeta, said empowering women in local politics would serve as a spring board to the national elections.
She added that with the support they received from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and IFES they had developed a multi-faceted programme to enhance the ability of women to compete in the upcoming local elections to strengthen the capacity of women councilors to represent their constituents, and to develop recommendations for election law reform in the post-election period. The country director disclosed that, “today’s teams of trainers will leave the city for the provinces to train 245 women aspirants in the country”. Honorine Muyoyeta stated that half a day would be a town hall meeting where in people would come and see their female aspirants.
IFES’ country director, Magnus Ohman, said the launch of the programme was to increase women’s participation in politics. He added that the 2007 elections were a step forward for the development of Sierra Leone.
The country director highlighted the work his organisation did during the last elections and what they were currently doing for the upcoming local council elections. The programme was launched by the Democracy and Governance specialist for USAID, Abdulia K Jalloh, who raised salient issues on investing in women. Meanwhile only 18% of women from political parties and Independent aspirants are contesting for the local council elections.