Advocacy, Public Awareness and Networking

 

Meeting with Political Parties

The objective set under the advocacy, public awareness and net working programmes for the period under review was largely achieved as it is evident in the activities carried out during the year.

Our organisation is positioned to support women in politics and decision making and therefore is working collaboratively with political parties to ensure that greater opportunity is granted to women who would like to contribute positively to the political activities of political parties like their male counter parts.

With support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the 50/50 group in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CDHR) AND Campaign for Good Governance held a one day meeting with political parties on the theme: WOMEN AND POLITICAL PARTY SYMBOLS. This meeting was also an opportunity to discuss with political parties on the strategies to attaining the 30% quota for female representation through one possibility of placing women candidates into winnable seats by political parties and which specific measures they could utilise to enhance the effective participation of women in the political activities of their parties beyond the nominal role as women leaders.

The parties were represented by their women leaders, Secretary Generals, youth leaders and two executive members representing the Chairmen. The parties represented were the All Peoples Congress (APC), the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), THE National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and The Sierra Leones Peoples Party (SLPP).

The meetings ended with the adoption of a resolution by all the political parties present for the enactment of a robust gender policy that would guide women representation at the various levels in the parties. Two political parties who claimed to be more supported by women found the meeting useful and agreed that it was important to engage further on the issue of affirmative action. The meeting concluded that there was the need by the 50/50 group to monitor the allocation of party symbols to female candidates and bring out any area of dissatisfaction to the attention of the party executives.

The 50/50 group was requested by the political parties to provide a gender consultant to work with political parties to develop the policies on gender. The consultant is already at work with the political parties and hope that the gender policies once developed would be incorporated in to the entire review of the electoral laws.

 

Meeting with Civil Society Organisations

Civil Society in Sierra Leone is considered crucial in the agitation for reforms that are meant to improve the welfare of any target group specified in their advocacy and awareness-raising. Since the organisation is taking the lead on the advocacy for the 30% quota for female representation in Sierra Leone, the organisation decided to bring together thirty civil society organisations with the objective of coalescing to increase the advocacy for the 30% quota.  Women’s organisations formed the bulk of the group including organisations led by men. This was led by the West Africa Network for peace building (WANEP) Participants were also drawn from the ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs , the office of the Attorney-General and the Office of the President.

At this meeting, various strategies for attaining the said quota were put forward by the various organisations and a campaign team led by the Women Solidarity Support Group (WSSG) was formed. This group was to lead the process and to ensure that all the priorities and concerns of the organisations are put into a document for the attention of the Executive arm of government. Earlier the President, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma had  apologise to the women of Sierra Leone for the wrongs committed against them during the ten years of war in the Country and promise that he would facilitate the process of ensuring that the 30% quota is reserved for women through the necessary legislations.

In view of this, the ministry responsible for the quotas immediately formed a task force in the Ministry of Social Welfare headed by the Deputy Minister to facilitate the process in line with the President’s Agenda. This task force was to coordinate with other with other government line ministries to seek the support for affirmative action in line with government policy.

The meeting ended with a call on Civil Society organisation to critically consider the issue of the 30% quota into their programmes as Sierra Leone they claim is far behind other countries in the implementation of Gender quota and also to incorporate them into their policy advocacy work.