9 July 2019

Sierra Leone: Female MP Bemoans Selective Attitude of Women's Groups

President of the Parliamentary Female Caucus, Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay, has expressed dissatisfaction over the way and manner in which Women's organizations in Sierra Leone were deliberately leaving behind women in the provinces during and after elections.

She stated that Women's organizations were only providing trainings and organizing workshops for women in the Freetown municipality, while leaving behind those in the chiefdoms and constituencies.

"We are not happy with women organizations in the country. They have never advocated for women during elections. Most of the organizations do not support the political parties and also the few fortunate female MPs that have been elected. We want women to succeed in the communities," she said.

She was speaking at a consultative meeting with civil society, female councilors and other women supporting groups from all districts.

Hon. Veronica K. Sesay said the meeting was to dialogue with other women as there were certain things that needed to be included in the bills that will protect women and girls in all areas.

She reiterated that women's groups were not supporting women when it comes to politics and other areas.

She stated that women's networks have never followed elected female MPs in their constituencies and ascertain as to how they were faring on with life.

"We are fighting now for an Affirmative Action bill but where were you all when you have left us behind. We are tired of you organizing workshops for us. We want your physical support. We are over qualified with so many trainings, go with us in our constituencies," she said.

She said women's groups should not limit training in the capital city, but should go down to chiefdom levels as that will help women to grow in the political arena.

She said even when the Women, Peace and Security resolution was brought to Parliament for adoption, there were no women's organization to support and cheer them up.

UN Women Representative, Josephine Scott Manga, said Sierra Leone has been the first country to adopt the Women, Peace and Security across the sub-region and that the country has gained a lot from that development.

She said there were many challenges for women to partake in political fights, but stated that there has been a plus to have women as Attorney General, ministers and deputy ministers.

She said the UN has seen all the good things undertaken in various districts, but noted that there was need for all women organizations to come as one to support the Affirmative Action bill.

She said the country will change if women are seen working together as one in the development of the country and also urged them to galvanize other women by the next elections.

Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Melrose Kargbo said women's role in society is very critical and important, hence their male counterparts must acknowledge and accept it as women were now ready to take different parts to support women once Affirmative Actions are put together.

"I want to state that there are numerous challenges as though there are a few women that are educated but it is now left with us to encourage those women that are down. The more women are empowered, the better the society but there is needed to support each other than pulling down women. Even if there are mistakes, it is our role to correct those mistakes and not mock them," she said.

She stated that the role of women in all areas of the society is very important and that they were highly needed in the political arena.

Also, Head of Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), Marcella Samba-Sesay, said women should support each other in leading positions and break the silence for the up -coming children to take them as mentors.

She said the sexual offences barrier should be broken as it is no longer fashionable for children to be raped.

"We are calling on MPs to review the Sexual Offence Act. It is now becoming a menace that would not be easy to break. The need to support any action from such engagement will be given by the Campaign for Good Governance," she said.

Vice President of the Parliamentary Caucus, Hon. Rose Marie Bangura said they were ready to move with other women as all will have the chance to contest.

She urged them to come out and put aside fear when positions are available at all levels, stating that there might be a lot of challenges but there was need to push.

She said women should grow love for fellow women and that governance is continuity and should also be able to handle government property in all areas.

Secretary of the Parliamentary Female Caucus, Rebecca Yei Kamara, said such consultation meetings should not only be done in one place and that there was need to take it to other districts across the country.

"All women across the country need to get this message as it will help inspire them in the next elections and also girls will be given the inspiration to support women and contest in the future," she .

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