Cross-section of participants
Human Solidarity, a community-based, non-political and non-governmental organization, in collaboration with the British High Commission and CARITAS, on Wednesday 12th February 2020 commenced a two-day capacity building/training workshop aimed at increasing women’s political participation in Sierra Leone as well as empowering them to contribute to the increase in women’s political participation to enable political parties’ Women’s Wings become competent and skilled to effectively participate in politics.
The two-day capacity building/training workshop for women in politics, taking place from 12th -13th February 2020 at the Saint Anthony’s Parish Hall on Syke Street in Freetown, was officially declared open by a representative of the British High Commission in Freetown.
The 50 participants include the Women’s Wings of the four main political parties in the House of Parliament who nominated 10 (ten) members each.
At yesterday’s official opening ceremony, the Executive Director of Human Solidarity, Idrissa G. Mansaray articulated that it is a golden opportunity for his organization to develop the human psyche of women, that women are first and religiously magnanimous, appealed to all to respect women, reiterated the need to educate the girl or woman and underscored that gender equality and empowerment of women are part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the Executive Director, at the end of the training workshop, follow-up meetings would be made to ensure that participants implement the knowledge gained and described the all women facilitators as experienced reiterating that they are looking for results through an increase in the percentage of women representatives in politics, especially in Parliament and Local Councils in the 2023 general elections.
He also urged women to hold duty bearers accountable on national issues and commended partners for their support to the training workshop.
Among others, participants highlighted political intimidation, violence, abuse and lack of funds as some of the factors militating their participation in politics, that there is no woman in the national executive of the APC except the Women’s Leader, that women do not support each other, that there are 146 Members of Parliament with only 16 women, called for safe seats for women, enforcement and implementation of recommendations and policies and referenced Rwanda and Kenya as examples of African countries where a good number of women are in governance and the decision-making process.
Participants also called for the empowerment of young women, create safe space for women in politics, that women do not support each other, that organizations should not only train but support women during elections, that women must recruit more women into politics through mentorship, that they must work across political parties and that the constitutions of political parties and the national constitution must be reviewed to empower women.
“Women must be protected against violence, gender and human rights are important in any society to sustain development, gender is central to development, gender mainstreaming is the strategy/means or ways to enhance gender equality, women and men would operate and be valued equally. Furthermore, cultural and traditional practices and religion are some of the factors inhibiting gender equality,” they revealed.
According to the women, government must domesticate treaties, conventions and protocols, that the APC surpassed the 30% quota for women and also has women representatives in its National Advisory Council, the highest decision making-body of the party, and has 26 female councilors in the Western Area Urban, that there are no female Paramount Chiefs in the North and that the training must be replicated to others, both men and women.
Some of the topics covered or to be covered include Knowledge of Sierra Leone’s Political System,-participants will be trained on how Sierra Leone’s political systems work–lack of women’s representation in politics and governance. The challenges women face and ways to overcome them; Personal Communications, Advocacy and Campaign-participants will be trained basic personal communication skills, advocacy skills and how to launch successful campaigns; Cooperating with Other Women and Acting Collectively on Issues of Mutual Concern-participants will be trained how to work together to promote women’s issues with political parties and Institutionalizing Gender Equality in Political Party Policies, Processes and Practices-participants will be trained how to lobby within their political parties to promote gender issues.
Facilitators at the two-day event include Mrs. Isata Kadija Jalloh, Mrs. Helen Bash –Taqi, Mrs. Marcella Samba Sesay and Hon. Roseline Jenneh Smith.