By Foday Moriba Conteh
As part of their efforts toward strengthening and promoting women’s participation in politics, governance, and decision-making in the country the Social Enterprise Development (SEND Sierra Leone) through its Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Project (WISE) in collaboration with Trocaire and with support from Irish Aid held a one day women engagement with Political Parties, CSOs, PPRC, etc. The one day engagement which was held at the Western Rural District Council in Waterloo was geared towards unearthing what efforts has been made by political parties towards promoting women’s participation in politics as the country’s heads for its 2023 general elections.
Present at the ceremony were women draw within the Western Rural District, representatives from the All People’s Congress and the Sierra Leone People’s Party.
In her address, the Project Officer of SEND Sierra Leone (Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Project), Grace Kortu-Kargbo, revealed that the WISE project has three problems which includes low representation of women in political and governance position, limited access to finance and healthcare services for women and high level of gender inequality and marginalization of women at the home and in communities.
She added that the objectives of the WISE project is to boost women’s right to economic resources, enhance women’s control over meaningful decisions that benefit them in their households and communities and enhance women’s contributions in the political and governance spheres, at the community, district and national level of which she furthered that they deemed it fit to hold the engagement with Political Parties, CSOs, PPRC etc. in order to enhance women’s contributions in the political and governance arena, at the community, district and national level.
The Project Officer however pointed out that the project activities include support to Port Loko Farmers Network, gender transformative approaches training sessions, identifying, building the capacity of women to contest for political positions in the 2023 General Elections, the launch of the training manual for female aspirants and candidates and subsequent trainings and finally the creation and support to village savings and loans associations.
She, however, maintained that responses of the representatives from the two main political parties in the country the All People’s Congress Party (APC) and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) were that they have supported the need to have more women on board, although it was not really clear on what efforts have been made by these political parties towards promoting women’s participation in politics but said that at the end of the engagement they will have an action plan in order to continue to engage political parties.
Grace Kortu-Kargbo concluded by disclosing that lessons have taught them that long-term sustained capacity building, mentoring, coaching, and networking are essential to get women elected at local and national levels and to deliver on shared commitments to transformational political inclusive processes in the country.
The Public Relations Officer of the WISE project, Isatu Kamara commended SEND Sierra Leone for the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Project (WISE) which she described as a workforce towards the promotion of women’s participation in politics, governance and decision-making in the country.
On her part, the Women Representative on the 21 Man Committee of APC, Marie Tambaka Kamara commended SEND Sierra Leone through the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Project (WISE) for the laudable venture towards the promotion of women’s participation in politics in the country.
She said that the promotion of women’s participation in politics is a move in the right direction of which she said she is in support.
“At first when I told my husband about me going into politics he was not in support of me, but when he heard that I have been appointed as women representative in the 21 Man Committee of the APC party he was the first person to call me and congratulate me on my appointment, this is to tell you all that no matter the challenges keep pushing especially within the political landscape in the country,” she stated.
Marie Tambaka Kamara concluded by encouraging women present to empower themselves even as they aspire to go into politics.
Following the statements were a open discussions, comments, and questions from women present which closed the engagement. During that session women present shared their ideas and challenges they face in their different communities and further proffered solutions going forward. These women also appreciated the move by SEND Sierra Leone through the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Project (WISE) for amplifying their voices through their activities and programs all geared towards the promotion of women’s participation in politics.