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Sierra Leone News: 289 women aspiring for political positions

Since 2012, only 13% of decision-makers and lawmakers in Parliament have been women. Only one out of 5 mayors is female, Mayor Sunkarie Kabba-Kamara in Makeni City Council, who doubles as the current president for the 19 local councils across the country.
Ahead of the March 2018 elections there are 289 women ready to aspire for key governance positions across the country after lots of leadership trainings by SEND Foundation, the 50-50 group, USAID, and other women’s advocacy bodies. The training has trigger the passion of potential women to come out to participate in next year elections for positions including Mayor, Members of Parliament, Local Council and districts representation.
The recent census records reported that out of a total country population of 7,092,113, it indicated that 3,596,486 account for the women population representing 51% whiles 49% are men.
The March 2018 general elections registered voters will decides the fate of 600 Sierra Leoneans to represent the over 7 million population. The women are requesting for 48% of that total 600 seats from their various political parties to award them with a win seat symbols for better representation of their respective communities.
During the March 2018 elections voters will be voting for 132 parliamentarians out of which the women are pleading for 51 safe seats which represents 4% of the seats, whiles 446 seats will be allocated to wards in the local councils and the women are requested for 231 accounting for 52%. In the category of chairmen and mayors out of the available 22 seats women are demanding for only 7, which represent 32%.
The latest training by SEND Foundation, USAID, and other women advocacy groups has saw a steady increased and preparedness in the number of women coming out to participate in politics. In Kono district for example the number of women that had expressed their interest into politics has increased form 63 to 72, Port Loko from 21 to 27 whiles Bombali has also increased from 30 to 45, Kenema from 38 to 48, Kailahun from 31 to 43 and Tonkolili from 28 to 34.
Rebecca Yei Kamara, is a women advocate in Kono and she is contesting to become a member of parliament in that part of the country said, present and past men were not properly represented women and children. She said all this time women have been in their various communities during good or bad times as compared to men whom according to her only come when its time for politics.
Rebecca said women have been marginalized as a result of the absence of financial institutions and SG member’s skepticism to banking their money. She said they are exploring linkages of SGs to formal financial institutions through mobile money platforms.
Despites all this so much interests, women are challenged with candidature fees, security, intimidations, supports from traditional leaders, safe seats in party strong hold, education, unhealthy competition, poor performance of their colleagues, low knowledge on voting patterns and influence in the award of party symbols.
The Mayor of Makeni City Council, Sunkarie Kabba-Kamara, said it is challenging as the only female mayor among the councils including the five mayors. She said despite all the challenges and barriers women had made significant strive in elevating themselves in all position they are from large scales to small businesses, to governance, state and non state actors.
The unanswered questions now are will the major political parties award symbols to these 289 women that are ready to contribute to their respective communities. Engagement with political parties ahead of the award of symbols is ongoing by women groups, activists and media team to plead for those women.
By Mohamed Kabba
Twitter: @chikakabba
Wednesday November 29, 2017.

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