“I believe this is the turning point wherein we have decided to confront the challenges preventing us from sitting side by side with the men in matters of politics and governance,” said Mary Wuyata Karimu, who chaired the launching program at Hotel Albertson, Kenema City last week.
Mary Wuyata Karimu is the Chairperson of the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) Eastern Region.
“This is the time that the women of Sierra Leone should take the podium in leadership and decision making. Let us not relent and let no man intimidate us and tell us that we are not educated,” she added.
The Kenema Women in Governance Network is now an affiliate to Kailahun Women In Governance Network, which was formed in 2009. The formation of both women networks was supported by SEND Sierra Leone through funding from Irish Aid under the Women Participation in Governance Project. The Kenema project is specifically called Kenema Women Participation in Governance.
The network draws its membership from all 16 chiefdoms in Kenema District, with the district divided into four zones. Each zone has its executive which reports to the District Executive comprising of seven members. The district executives are elected from the four zones.
Speaking to her audience, President of the Kenema Women Network, Fatmata Dassama said: “Let me first and foremost, on behalf of our membership, commend the donors and SEND Sierra Leone for the trainings and support throughout the stages of the formation of this network. Our goal is to ensure more women take up political offices; come 2023, we want the numbers to increase remarkably. We know it will not be easy, but we are giving it a good fight,” adding that they have started identifying women for key positions for the next national elections.
The women however, noted some of the key challenges holding them back, such as reprehensible culture and traditions and what they call pulling-down-syndrome. They also noted that the men in the Eastern region have not been treating women fairly in terms of political empowerment.
To get the men onboard, Dassama revealed that the network has trained about 80 males in the district to help them convince more men to support the political course of women.
“If we want to quickly achieve our goal we need the support of the men; so let’s do all we can to convince them to get onboard. Let us start with our husbands or partners. Let us stay united and let’s talk positive things about our colleague women and rally behind those we have identified to be leaders in order to build Sierra Leone,” appealed Dassama.