Women activists from various groups in Sierra Leone, including the Parliamentary Female Caucus, 50/50 Group and Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), among others, have ended a one-day consultative conference on the constitutional review process and how they could speak with one voice in championing the welfare of women in the country.
The consultation, which was funded by Christian Aid Sierra Leone, brought together civil society groups who have been working on women's issues to put their resources together and support the women of Sierra Leone in obtaining the 30% quota, gender equality and women's economic empowerment through the review process.
Giving an overview of the process, Christian Aid Country Manager, Madam Jeanne Kamara, noted that civil society members and non-governmental organizations have been working closely for a very long time to ensure that women have the opportunity to add their voices on the constitutional review process.
Representing the Female Parliamentary Caucus, Minority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Bernadette Lahai, said they have restructured the Caucus in order to be able to effectively champion the welfare of women in Sierra Leone. She said it was unfortunate that Sierra Leonean women were unable to adequately table the 30% quota during the last Parliament but assured women of close collaboration this time with other stakeholders.
"We have been able to put our differences aside and now determined to advocate for the women of Sierra Leone with one voice regardless of our political differences," Dr. Lahai stated.
APC Member of Parliament representing Constituency 84 in the Port Loko District, Hon. Isatu Kabia, explained the challenges faced by women politicians especially at grassroots communities where men have always played a domineering role in the field of politics.
Hon. Kabia said she decided to enter politics to liberate her people from the hands of selfish politicians who have always considered politics to be a men's affairs.
A private legal consultant working with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, Finda Koroma, also lauded the efforts of women and various groups in bringing the constitutional review process forward.
She said the international community is committed to Sierra Leone attaining 30% quota for women in governance, but however pointed out that the women of Sierra Leone are still faced with the challenge of economic empowerment.
"The 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone makes no provision for gender as compared to other countries. You should therefore make use of this review process by ensuring that your views are heard," Madam Koroma urged.