By: Mohamed M. Sesay
During the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association (ECOFEPA) advocacy campaign for an increment of the 30% quota for women in politics within the ECOWAS Region, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament Hon. Sidi Mohamed Tunis, has on Friday the 17th of March 2023, encouraged Women to grab the 30% quota by joining any political parties of their choice.
The theme for the event was, “Scaling up political partnerships between men and women”. The purpose of the two days event is geared towards reinforcing the call to increase the quota of 30% female representation in the ECOWAS region. It also serves as a rallying point to boast women’s access, participation, and representation in politics and decision-making.
In her welcoming statement, the Sierra Leone Parliamentary Female Caucus President and also a member of ECOFEPA Hon.
Veronica Kadie Sesay called for the need to translate female representation into action other than a mere talk.
She accorded deserving praises to President Bio for his endless commitment towards the promotion of gender equality.
She equally called on Political parties to adhere to the promotion of female participation in the next coming elections in Sierra Leone. “We want the 30% quota to be implemented “, she said. Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay further commended donor partners for their support towards the implementation of gender mainstreaming into politics. Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay also commended the leadership of Parliament for supporting and enacting the Gender Empowerment bill into law.
In his statement, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament Hon. Dr. Sidi Mohamed Tunis, registered his profound thanks and appreciation to President Bio and First Lady for championing the Gender and Women Empowerment through enactment of the Act.
He said leaders of every sphere have the responsibility to promote and safeguard women. ECOWAS Speaker added that the event would help broaden the horizon of participants in terms of promoting women empowerment. He therefore, encouraged all to take the event very seriously for the betterment of the ECOWAS region. He said since the June 24th election is just too close, he encouraged the youth to be peaceful and maintain the peace. He concluded by inspiring all female to join their political parties of choice as the 30 percent is there to protect them.
Delivering the keynote statement on behalf of the First Lady, Ambassador Foday Yumkellah, thanked President Bio for his vision in promoting gender equality. He said the President initiated the Free Quality Education in order to have an enlightened society.
He added that the “Hands of Our Girls “ campaign by the First Lady, coupled with the Sexual Offensive Act, have been very pivotal in promoting gender equality. He thanked the ECOFEPA for championing such campaign and for also choosing Sierra Leone as a host for the event.
The British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone Lisa Chesney, Said the UK has tripled appointment positions for women. She added that most senior positions in UK are occupied by female. She therefore, congratulated the Sierra Leone House of Parliament for enacting the Gender Empowerment Act. She urged all and sundry to place a continuous effort in creating the enable environment across the ECOWAS region for women empowerment.
She also implored all the highly placed women to support other women in terms of representation. She registered her 100% support to all political parties in terms of women empowerment. She concluded by encouraging leaders of political parties to accord the 30% quota for women in the fourth coming elections.
European Union Ambassador Manuel Muller, confessed that Gender Equality is fundamental to the development of any nation. He congratulated Sierra Leone for the enactment of the Gender Act especially for the 30% quota which is expected to come in fruition in the June 24th Elections. He said the EU and Sierra Leone share strong partnership in terms of promoting gender equality. He added that the EU would support any institution for the promotion of gender equality. He encouraged all and sundry to put robust measures in place to eliminate all forms of violence against women.
Representing the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Madam Marian Sia Nyuma-Moijui , intimated the gathering that the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone is determined in executing its mandate as prescribed in the laws of Sierra Leone. She edified that the commission had done some regal reviews in order to cater for the must marginalized groups include the women and persons living with disabilities. She disclosed that the nomination fees for Members of Parliament is six months of the minimum salary wage, twelve months of the minimum salary wage presidential candidates etc. She expressed optimism that the next composition of the house of Parliament of Sierra Leone would be very colorful in terms of women representation after the June 24 elections.
Madam Moijui also anticipated for continuous peace and stability across the ECOWAS region.
On his part, the Deputy Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs Buakai Bindi Hindowa, intimated that the ministry was created by President Bio because the president believes that the empowerment of women and children is key to his government. He said the engagement was just a testament that women should not be limited to the four corner of the kitchen, but rather serve as active partners in development.
The Deputy Minister also commended the Gender and Women Empowerment Act adding that, the Act provides for 30%for female representation and 30% for appointment positions. He added that women’s participation in politics is about making themselves available for the challenges. He said plans are at an advanced stage to implement the Gender and Women’s Empowerment Act in ensuring that men and women work side by side for the betterment of the country.
The President for All Political Parties Women Association Augusta James Terma, thanked the ECOFEPA for organizing such an important occasion in fulfillment of promoting women involvement in decision making. She also celebrated President Bio for signing into law the Gender Empowerment Act. She therefore, called for a continuous sensitization for the Gender Empowerment Act. She also called on leaders of political parties to place women in all their political party lists in achieving the 30% limit.