Over the years, women in Sierra Leone have been advocating for a 30 percent representation in all decision-making processes in the country. Groups like 50-50, Talking Drum Studio and CGG, to name but three, have been spearheading the call for women to be empowered.
I am hypnotized by the active and courageous role that Francis Fortune and Nancy Sesay of Talking Drum Studio have taken in pushing women issues. I could mirror as well on the trainings that have been organized for women, and the support they received, particularly before, during and even after the just concluded local council elections from the National Democratic Alliance.
Least I forget the name, Marian Matembe, a former Ugandan Member of Parliament who was also very laud and very instrumental in the promotion of women affairs in Sierra Leone. At one point, she expressed her frustration at the APC when they [APC] were allegedly intimidating female aspirants for the local elections.
Women have been involved in all aspects of their society’s life. Women are both producers and procreators and they are also active participants in the social, political, and cultural activities of their communities. However, the varied and important roles they play have not always been recognized over the years, maybe for fear of them dominating other aspects of lives or reasons not known by this writer.
The discriminatory political, economic and social regulations they faced prior to this time have greatly barred them from partaking in national development without equal opportunities; they have lagged behind men in all fields of self-advancement. Take the Kabala District, for instance: This is the first time that women have been allowed to partake in the ruining of the council. Women in Kabala were discriminated against but today they have crossed that barrier created by men.
Economic development is unthinkable without the participation of women. In some economic sectors, women even constitute a proportionally larger group of the labor force than men. Go to Bambay market, and you’ll see how women keep running the economic fabric of this country. However, because their participation in the economy has not been valued, women in this country have not received their fair share of the nation’s wealth. This is my view.
I have seen the exemplary performance of certain women at the helm of national affairs. This has led me to the conviction that women can be good managers at all levels. In the Kono City Council, until the recent council elections, Mary Musa was the City Mayor and her performance, in the midst of men, could be described as encouraging.
There are women in government ministries: People like Afsatu Kabba and Zainab Hawa Bangura, among others, have also tried their bests in living up to the expectations of people, and there’s no doubt that today we could make reference to ‘Koroma NPA’ as a result of the studiousness of the minister in charge of electricity, Madam Kabba. Not only that, even the country’s foreign policy could be seen as good when it comes to our international relations. Madam Bangura must be commended for that. Some have called her pompous, but perhaps she is only misunderstood.
The outstanding performance of Madam Ellen Johnson Serleaf, an influential woman in Liberia, must be emulated by all. In a country like Singapore, women traditionally played a small role in the politics of the country, as well as in its public life. Nevertheless, in recent years, there has been increasing women representation in public life, as most of them have started running for political office. Notable female politicians include the former Acting Minister Seet Ai Mee (the highest ranked female politician in the history of Singapore), Minister of State Yu-Fu Yee Shoon, and Amy Khor Lean Suan, a district mayor.
The same applies in Canadian Politics, where the first woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons was Agnes Macphail, in the 1921 election.
When the current government took over – and even before – they gave premium to women issues, so there’s no wonder that women have today been appointed to head key institutions like the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (headed by Sarah Bendu).
Appointed almost a year now, she has done her best, just like other women in other government departments, to bring about some reforms in the operations of such a department. Though soft-spoken in manner, Bendu revealed her plans for the Road Transport Authority in the next 24 months. But honestly, her success must be harmonized by others, not just those working with her.
Just as stated by Madam Bendu, “in life, women must be prepared to face challenges.” Women have proved to be good managers, and this has again been demonstrated by Christiana Thorpe. With all the hurdles, trials and temptations that surrounded the conduct of the presidential, parliamentary and even the local elections, Thorpe was able to put her head above water. She came, she conducted the elections, and she gained international accolades.
This woman at the helm of affairs at SLRA, like all other women, must be supported to succeed in their aims for a better country. The Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority is an institution of government and with a woman at the helm of affairs, there is bound to be success.
The success of a country depends on women as well. I implore all women: Maintain your focus and keep to your integrity. Don’t allow people top distract you. Have good consciences between God and man. You will encounter problems, but just keep to your determination and then you shall succeed because you are indeed good, if not better, managers. Till then [email protected] is my email By John Baimba Sesay