Sierra Leone: 50/50 Group Empowers Women

By Stephen V. Lansana

The 50/50 Group of Sierra Leone in partnership with OSIWA has over the weekend concluded a two day training of trainers’ workshop in women’s empowerment for women in the western area, Kono, Kailahun and Kenema district with the theme: “Breaking barriers: empowering community women in leadership skills for political participation”.

The aim of the training is to increase the number of women, especially those excluded from leadership and decision making positions to participate in leadership all over the country. The training will be cascaded to 400 women in four of the organization’s fourteen operational districts in the country. The organization will also sensitize women about their rights to participate in politics through radio and television discussions in the major local languages across the country.

President of the 50/50 Group of Sierra Leone, Dr. FatouTaqi said that the training is to get the women ready and prepared for the challenges they may face in the upcoming general and presidential election on March 7, 2018. She added that the training will enable community women to participate in politics, adding that more women better politics.

She said that they will continue with this project in the other part of the country. She said that they have four regional coordinators and 14 coordinators in the 14 distrists, adding that after this training, the coordinators will train other women in the country. She said the training will build the capacity of the women.

Dr. Taqi said that they are breaking barriers through training, teaching and advocacy, so that the women will know how to participate in leadership.

Coordinator of OSIWA Project, Emmanuel Jah said that they are targeting 30 percent quota of women in political affairs towards 2018 election. He added that after the election, they will also advocate for 40 percent until they attain the 50 percent quota for women in leadership positions.

He said that they are conducting continues training for women in the country for the sustainability of the project.

One of the participants, Councillor Theresa Gaba from Kailahun said that they have 12 women councilors in the Kailahun District Council, and that some of them are not even educated. She explained that it was the 50/50 Group that empowers her in politics.

The Founder and First President of the 50/50 Group Sierra Leone, Dr. NemataMajeks-Walker said that OSIWA has done well for supporting the Group, adding that they have not had such support from any partners before. She disclosed that OSIWA has helped them with full time staffing in their offices.

The 50/50 Group is a non-partisan organisation, advocating and campaigning for an increased political participation and equal representation of women in decision-making processes and initiatives at all levels in Sierra Leone.

It vision is equal representation and participation of women and men in public life in Sierra Leone’s political life and in governance processes at all levels.

The 50/50 Group specifically envisages the following: A female president; 50% representation of women in Parliament, Local Government and decision-making positions at all levels; The existence of a coalition of women that forms a critical mass of capable women who serve as a resource in the country and provide support to other women aspiring for leadership positions and the 50/50 Group mainly works through its members and targets organized groups such as networks of women NGOs, media organisations, community-based women’s groups, traditional and religious leaders, and local government structures at the community level.

The Open Society Initiative for West Africa is active in 10 countries in the region (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone) and focuses on law, justice and human rights, and economic and political governance. The initiative pursues the development of open societies by supporting and building partnerships with local and regional groups that promote inclusive democratic governance, transparency and accountability, and active citizenship.