The founder of the 50/50 group, Dr Nemata Eshun Baiden, yesterday at ENCISS’ Tengbeh Town head office, said they would on Thursday stage militant demonstrations by storming the head offices of all registered political parties.
Dr Nemata, who was speaking at the launching of “Women’s Elections Watch Plus”, said when they stormed the parties’ offices they would inform them that women were against violence before, during and after the elections.
She added that, “women constitute 52% of the country’s populations but continue to be grossly underrepresented in elective and appointed offices-14.5% women in parliament and 14.3% in cabinet, 9.68% in the civil service. 14.3% in ambassadorial positions”.
The founder maintained that there were no legal or constitutional barriers to women’s representation but social, economic and cultural barriers preclude women from competing on an equal level with men for representation in decision making bodies thus denying them enjoyment of their civil and political rights enshrined in the constitution of Sierra Leone.
Dr Baiden recalled that in 2004, a coalition of women’s organisations, co-coordinated by the 50/50 group lobbied for a 30% quota in decision making bodies, adding that “the Local Government Act of 2004 provides a statutory representation of a minimum of 50% representations of women at ward committee level”.
She pointed out that the launching of the Women’s Advocacy Campaign dubbed- Women’s Elections Watch Plus ignaled the start of an intense and sustained advocacy process to redress the imbalance created by the lack of commitment demonstrated by the political parties with regard to the selection of women candidates.
Dr Baiden emphasized that the coalition wanted to ensure that political parties understood that women could use their votes as a bargaining tool.
Earlier on in her opening remarks Jeanette Eno, ENCISS’ programme director, said it was a very important occasion for the launching of the venture as it brought their manifesto to the public arena.
She noted that, “this is the work of my organisation to bring stakeholders, civil society and women’s groups all over the country to share ideas together and chat the way forward”.
The president of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, said “the 50/50 group is committed to the developments and introducing new governance in the country”.
Mr Kargbo maintained that these elections were going to be pivotal in the elections because they would make a transition from one president to another president and from one parliamentarian to another.