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Sierra Leone News: Women say it all in Women’s Debate

Six women from six political parties got together on stage at the British Council hall ahead of the 7 March general elections to outline their party plans and solutions for women. The Women’s Debate is the round of debates hosted by of the Sierra Leone Presidential Debate Committee, lead by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and AYV Media. The Debate was hosted by Williette PRO James, lecturer at FBC, and Lamrana Bah, presenter at Star TV.
The Women’s Debate on Thursday 1 March 2018 was broadcast live on AYV televisions and all partner radio stations of the Independent Radio Networks (IRN), and also was streamed on Facebook.
The debate was opened by Mary Yabonet Conteh, Mayoral candidate for the Makeni City Council under the Citizens Democratic Party (CDP). She said if she wins the Makeni seat after the elections, she would focus on effective women’s participation and revenue mobilization. Despite the fact that Isata A. Kamara, the running mate candidate for the Alliance Democratic Party (ADP) was unable to introduce herself before the end of her 30 seconds, she highlighted areas to look into but was unable to reveal what they will do on them.
The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) Parliamentary candidate Josephine N.M. Jackson, said her party believes in human rights, gender equality, rule of law and democracy. The National Grant Coalition (NGC) party candidate for the Western Area Rural District council chair, Arabella M. Foray, highlighted access to education, jobs, reproductive health, single parenting among others are missing and are challenging for women in the country.
The Parliamentary candidate for the Coalition for Change (C4C), Rebecca Yei Kamara, said good governance without women’s representation is poor. Her party believes in inclusive governance especially with women because issues affecting women are shared and cut across the country. The Mayoral candidate for the All People’s Congress (APC) party, Yvonne Aki Sawyer, said women were unrepresented in many aspects. She said she would be focusing on areas of human resources by investing in education, the economy by investing on cash transfer and inclusive governance with 30% women representations.
Isata A. Kamara from ADP said there are factors related to the low turnout of women in politics ranging from the patriarchal situation, less educated, discrimination, early marriage, cultural traditions and deprivation. She said their party will establish secure boarding schools, a policy of tolerance, award of scholarships to girls especially in the sciences and technology department with a viable salary structure and training for teachers.
The Chairp candidate, Arabella M. Foray of NGC, expressed her frustrations and disappointment for being disenfranchised to participate in the elections by the ruling APC party merely because according to them, she is a woman. She said as a women and as a party they believe strongly in girls education, equal access to scholarships, better functions and revamping of the education sector, which according to her will form pivotal roles in ending early child marriages.
Rebecca Yei Kamara of C4C despites promises of a 30% quota made by President Koroma in Moyamba and the non-enactment of the Gender Equality Bills, her party will match up with international standards. She said free education for all kindergarten will be introduced as basis for better foundations pointing that education depends on human development hence needs more fund funding.
The APC Mayoral candidate, Yvonne A. Sawyer associates sexual violence in schools, access to credit and work place to factors to under representation of women in the country. She said on her personal level she had not been disadvantaged but expressed frustrations when in meetings people said ladies and gentlemen stating that they are being considered less.
She said her party will work with positive discrimination by ensuring girls education is compulsory, which will assist parents. She will review the present 6-3-3-4 and the elimination of two shifts to a single shift. She said they will invest in girls in schools, infrastructure, and teachers.
The SLPP Josephine N.M. Jackson said access to jobs, education, scholarships early marriages, teenage pregnancy, child labour and human trafficking as factor affecting women and girls. She said her party is for free education for primary and secondary schools and it will be packaged and reviewed of the 6-3-3-4 education system.
She said they would review and work effectively with the three Gender Acts, strengthening of the Education Ministry and the Police in handling violence against women and girls.
The debaters showed confidence and addressed burning issues fairly in a friendly and interactive atmosphere. Lots of issues were raised from gender-based violence, health, inclusive gender in the various party nominations and executive positions among others.
By Mohamed Kabba
Twitter: @chikakabba
Friday March 02, 2018.

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