120 young women, including elected female councilors, Network women and aspiring leaders have benefitted from an intensive capacity building training on leadership in the Kenema district. The Leadership Capacity training attracted female students from the Eastern Polytechnic who are aiming to take up leadership positions and also increase the number of women in governance. According to the SEND Sierra Leone senior project officer, Jeneba Combey, with funds from Irish Aid and UN Women, they have targeted these young women as a way of getting them interested in governance at various levels. “Capacitating someone is the best way of empowering him/her,” she said, explaining some of the beneficiaries have leadership qualities but are unaware about it, so the training will serve as a motivation for them to see the need to take up leadership positions. The 120 participants from across the district were divided into three groups, 40 in each group and were trained for two days each at the Kenema District Council hall.
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The women councilors and Network women, served as motivators for the young women, who are desperate to empower themselves for the future. Jeneba said they are preparing the young women for the 2023 general elections so that they will come up for various elective positions within their various communities and in the process increase the number of women in governance. According to her in the previous projects they were unable to achieve much due to late preparation which is why they have now decided to catch them young when their minds are fresh and up for change. The President Kenema Women in Governance Network, Fatmata Dassama, said the specific area of focus on the training is the quality of a good leader, how to convince people while addressing people. She maintained, a leader should be accountable to his people and always try to consult before making decision. “We are not only training them to go into politics but to also take other leadership positions in public and private institution,” she said, disclosing that their aim is to see these young women see the need to take up leadership positions in their Institutions of learning, communities, organisations and even national politics. Final year Community Development Studies student, Elizabeth Massah Kanneh, said the training have impacted her life in such a way, that she now feels confident to take up leadership position at any level, but will first start at her community level. “Some of us have interest to go into national politics but were afraid we don’t possess the requisite experience to do so, but with this training I’m sure I can unravel my potentials and do what is right as a woman,” she said. She explained that a leader should have a vision which will enable him/her to succeed in whatever he/she intends doing, adding that a leader should be a good team player, accountable and have the spirit of empathy among others. Elizabeth however assured the donor partners and implementing organisation that the knowledge gained will be properly utilized, as her aim is to make the difference and take leadership positions as a way of advocating for other vulnerable women in society. “With the training, I’m sure I’ve been empowered and will now go and convince my people to see the need to give women the chance to represent them in leadership positions,” she assured, disclosing that she had been involved in Student Union politics making leaders. Margret Babawo an outgoing student at the Eastern Polytechnic, described the training as a ‘dream come true’ for her, disclosing she is one position who loves taking the back seat always when it comes to leadership with the feeling that she is not capable to handle any position. “I’ve now become so prepared to take whatever leadership positions available. My mind is now set to be an activist for women empowerment and child protection to ensure girl child takes their respective role in nation building,” she assured. She promised that she will take the ideas gained to ensure people change their mind sets on women empowerment, as women can do more than what a man can do if given the opportunity and support. She called on all young women across the district to come out and explore their leadership ability for the development of their communities and district as a whole.
By Alhaji Manika Kamara
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