There have been a number of articles on the above topic with seemingly increasing frequency. I have, in the past, added my voice and support to the cause in various opinions, both on fora and published articles. The topic, in my opinion is very important because it deals with a segment of the population that is in the majority in the country – i.e., women. It is rather sad, and telling, that more than half of the population is been sidelined. Untold lost productivity, that cannot be easily calculated.
There are so many issues to be addressed in the country that it is very difficult to determine where, and how, to start with the solutions. One thing is clear is that all problems in society ultimately affect all of society, not just the group that is suffering the most. In this vein the women need the support, first and foremost of women. If women cannot support a cause for women, hardly any one else will. There lies a big part of this problem. Many a female friend I have spoken to, of Sierra Leonean descent, are of the view that women themselves may be the biggest stumbling block to their progress. This is not unique to Sierra Leone anyway. The common consensus is that females will be a big part of those pulling down other females, trying to advance their (females) causes. At the drop of a hat, these female advocates will be labeled with that which will make Lucifer blush. My belief is that one of the reasons for this (smearing campaign) is that due to the male dominance in society, the role models, males over 45 yrs of age, and unfriendly to progressive females, formulate the opinions, which are spread by an unsuspecting, highly illiterate population. In addition the majority of society have the view that women can hardly be anything other than kitchen operatives. Witness the flogging of women who dared to make their voices heard.
Where lies the solution? As mentioned previously, there has to be cooperation within civil society to enact any change. People of privilege have never given up their power easily. Until the nation can get to the point where governments can be given a vote of non-confidence, six months after ascension to power, there will be no change in the behavior of incumbent governments. Until incumbent governments can be stopped in their tracks by lawsuits on behalf of the people, we will not see progress. Our present system of judiciary without a jury system that leaves a lot to be desired, especially when coupled with flagrant abuse of nolle prosecui, means we are not going anywhere.
We now have a picture painted that all aggrieved in Sierra Leone will have to come together to make the strongest case possible. Different tribes, races, religions, gender, ages, sexual orientation, literacy level, physical capability (handicapped) etc. , will be needed in the push for change. Just giving women 30% of parliamentary seats, will hardly make a difference if these new parliamentarians are going to operate under the same system that lacks transparency and accountability. Therefore it will have to be a coalition of ALL, to bring change for all groups. More power to women's groups and all other groups fighting for justice and equality.