A host of women's organizations in the eastern district town of Kailahun on Saturday took to the streets in protest of what they considered as the "continuous marginalization of women from participating in mainstream politics"; a development they said is also restricting them from making meaningfully contribution to the socio-economic and political development of the country.
A community-based organization, the Kailahun Women in Governance Network, has partnered with the Social Enterprise Development (SEND) to develop what is known as the 'Kailahun district women's manifesto for 2012', specially designed for female candidates contesting the forthcoming presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.
The women of Kailahun said they are strongly determined to make history by influencing the electorates to cast their votes for women candidates as well as political parties whose manifestos demonstrate faithful commitment to promoting gender equality.
"Our efforts to defeat poverty will remain ineffective and unsuccessful if women are not given the opportunity to rule their respective communities and the country as a whole," one of the female aspirants contesting for the position of chairperson of the Kailahun district council told Concord Times in an interview.
The women's manifesto was collectively put together by women politicians to speak with one voice and to cajole the electorates into seeing reason and overwhelmingly cast their votes in their favour.
Kailahun district has eight parliamentarians with only one woman; and out of the 29 councilors, only four are women representing their respective wards in the district council despite women accounting for about half the estimated 462,000 population of Kailahun district.
While launching the manifesto, SEND programme officer, Mohamed Osman, said women's social position in society is insecure as illiteracy, access to quality health care service by most of them, especially pregnant and lactating mothers, are some of the challenges they face nationwide.
"Positive change for women in the political, economic and social spheres will only come about through coordinated and collective efforts of women and gender activists to mobilize traditional authorities and other stakeholders to support women," maintained the SEND programme officer. "This manifesto appraises development in the health, agriculture, education and business sectors among others."