By Amin Kef-Ranger
Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ),has called on educated women to enter into active politics so that they could influence and address certain national issues including gender equality.
He made that clarion call during the launching of a manual to guide female aspirants in the upcoming public elections 2023 by SEND Sierra Leone and partners at Radisson Blu last week.
The SLAJ President commended the significant gains made in empowering rural women but underscored how the political situation in the country will remain the same if educated women decide to remain in the civil society and professional spaces only.
“Now, more than ever before, our country needs quality representation. Women should not only focus on increasing their numbers but priority should be given to quality representation and that is where our educated women come in. Get into active politics and influence the changes that you desire for women and girls and for the public in general. You should not wait for the men to win elections and then appoint you to political offices. You should run for political offices yourselves,” said Nasralla.
He maintained that there is no existing legislation that prevents women from aspiring for political offices in the country including the presidency.
“So what are our educated women waiting for? I commend the Zainab Banguras, the Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blydens, and the Femi Claudius Coles for taking that bold step to stand up and be counted in our patriarchal body politic. It is not an easy road to take but these women should serve as inspiration to other educated women. I challenge the Maude Peacocks, the Valnora Edwins, the Marcella Samba Sesays, the Dr. Fatou Taqis, the Dr. Isatu Mahois…The time is now! You have advocated enough, let the young women take your places while you make the imperative transition to politics,” urged Nasralla.
The result-oriented SLAJ President asserted that there is nothing criminal for educated women to step forward and become a member of an existing political party.
“These political parties are public property; they do not belong to individuals; they belong to the people of Sierra Leone. Politicians have come and gone; they will come and go but these parties will remain. These political parties are vehicles available to us to use to take us to where we want to go as a nation through periodic democratic elections. So we all have a right to board any of these vehicles to reach our various destinations,” said Nasralla.
He expressed the view that meaningful changes can only transpire and take precedence over legislative reforms and advocacy only when women, especially educated women, are actively involved in politics and are in positions of trust.
“How can you influence the award of political symbols when you are not in the party committee that awards them? How can you influence the enactment of the GEWE bill when it is men that are in charge in Parliament? Think about it,” Nasralla concluded.