The Chief of Party for World Vision in Sierra Leone, Dr. Tom Roberts says over 243 female aspirants have been empowered in seven districts to participate and take leadership roles in decision-making processes in the country.
Dr. Roberts made this disclosure during a presentation to the Minister of State I, Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay and Senior Management staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC), on the achievements thus far on the USAID funded project – Women Empowered for Leadership and Development (WELD); implemented by a consortium of four NGOs, primed by World Vision International (WVI).
According to the Chief of Party, WVI, the WELD Project has the overall goal of increasing women’s social, political and economic rights in Sierra Leone. The Savings Group (SG) he said is an approach used by the project to improve the economic rights of women in Sierra Leone.
He further explained that key among their several achievements so far, is increasing Women’s participation and representation in decision-making bodies/entities in seven pilot districts (285 sections in 57 chiefdoms) including: Kailahun, Kenema, Kono, Tonkilili, Bombali, Koinadugu, and Port Loko districts.
The report, according to WVI, shows that Kono district tops with 63 female aspirants for various positions (56 Local Councils; 1 Mayor; 5 Parliamentarians and 1 District Chair); followed by Kenema district with 38 female aspirants (11 Parliamentary, 26 Local Council, and 1 Mayor); next is Kailahun with 31 female aspirants (24 Local Councils; 0 Mayor; 7 Parliamentarians and 0 District Chair); Bombali 30 female aspirants ((28 Local Councils, 0 Mayor, 2 Parliamentarians and 0 District Chair); Tonkolili 28 (26 Local Councils, 0 Mayor, 2 Parliamentarians and 0 District Chair); Port Loko 21 female aspirants (15 Local Councils, 0 Mayor, 5 Parliamentarians and 1 District Chair); and in Koinadugu 14 (8 Local Councils, 0 Mayor, 5 Parliamentarians and 1 District Chair).
The report shows that in 2012 Kailahun topped the number of female aspirants by 33; followed by Bombali 31; Kenema 30; Kono 26; Koinadugu 9, Tonkolili 7; and Port Loko 4.
The above data, Dr. Roberts said, was for the reporting period up to July 20, 2017 and that the figures are expected to be updated later during the course of the project implementation.
He further disclosed that, in order to enhance the political base of these female aspirants, 58 have been linked to Savings Groups (SGs) in Bombali and Tonkolili districts. A total of 1,637 female SG members Dr. Roberts said, were in leadership roles and 357 groups established with 8,915 members in the seven districts.
Concluding, the WVI Chief of Party called on ‘male champions’ in parliament, councils and CBOs to be willing to support gender equity and women’s participation in leadership.
It should be recalled that the Government of Sierra Leone views that the issue of increasing the participation of women in leadership and political processes both at local and national levels is a human rights issue, which is inviolable to the democratic and socio-economic development of Sierra Leone. For this reason the GoSL accepted in July 2016 the UN Human Rights Council’s recommendations Numbers 166, 167 and 169 of the Second Universal Panel Review Cycle, which called for more inclusive governance systems that promote further representation of women into national institutions, public offices and higher levels of decision-making position.
The Minister of State 1 at the MFAIC, remarked that the report from Dr. Tom Roberts and his team clearly demonstrates that Sierra Leone is on the right path to empowering more women and young girls. The Ministry therefore welcomes the report on behalf of the GoSL, he concluded.