The women of Sierra Leone, with the support of UNIFEM and other UN agencies, launched the ‘Violence-Free Election’ campaign this Wednesday, 11 July 2007 in Bo Town.
The launching ceremony will coincide with the training of female volunteers on violence-free elections and voter education training for women, which also takes place in Bo, from 10 to 12 July.
The theme of the campaign is ‘Salone Women Peacekeepers for Elections 2007’.
The Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Shirley Gbujama, will be in Bo to launch the campaign.
Leaders of political parties, the National Electoral Commission (NEC), youth groups, security personnel including the SLP and women have been invited to the launch.
A public march has been organised through the streets of Bo to celebrate the launching.
The campaign has been organized to create a conducive environment for women’s full participation in the 2007 general elections – as voters, candidates and political party supporters.
It also serves as a means of introducing a culture of non-violence in elections to ensure that in future, women who have been dissuaded from active involvement in politics because of the violence associated with it, will be encouraged to come forward and participate.
The campaign is one of a series of activities being organized by the women of Sierra Leone and supported by UNIFEM.
Women are taking a lead role to ensure peaceful elections, to give visibility to the need for inclusion of women in governance and peacebuilding, by supporting capacity development of female candidates.
The training UNIFEM has envisioned will teach female candidates vital campaigning skills such as giving effective interviews, communicating clearly with the media, and articulating relevant campaign messages.
They will also be informed of the main development frameworks for Sierra Leone such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Vision 2025.
UNIFEM Programme Specialist, Jebbeh Foster emphasised the importance of this training for women in Sierra Leone;
‘UNIFEM has the opportunity to contribute significantly to the progress of gender equality, democratic values and fair representation in Sierra Leone’s political life.
Through this campaign we will ensure that women’s needs in peacebuilding will be given prominence in the 2007 general elections’.