By Zainab Kanu
Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) in collaboration with 50/50, and with support from UN Women, yesterday launched a 24 hours campaign school for female aspirants for the 2012 national elections at the Bank Complex, Kingtom, Freetown.
The campaign aims at giving women the right orientation as they declare interests to contest for political and leadership positions.
According to Dr. Aisha Fofana-Ibrahim of the 50-50 Group, her organization is poised to support and empower women to become active and useful for political and leadership positions.
Inside the campaign school documents for aspirants, Dr.Fofana-Ibrahim said they have developed strategies that would inspire women to aspire for electable positions, because they would only develop the confidence to contest for any position when they are capable.
National Co-ordinator for Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), Valnora Edwin, said they are working to promote good governance in the country by looking for opportunities for women in political positions.
Edwin said in 1985 the women of Kenya stood up for their rights to be heard and to be in positions of decision making, noting that Sierra Leonean women are no exception as they have what it takes to move Sierra Leone forward.
All of these, she stressed, could be achieved if a gender sensitive approach is utilized and the use of the 24 hours school campaign document. She said the training would also provide an opportunity for more women to come on board and aspire for management positions.
Edwin used the forum as an opportunity to encourage women who would not be awarded symbols by their parties to support women who would be fortunate to be awarded symbols.
The United Nations Gender Technical Team Chair, Mia Febbo, said with all the support and campaign, women’s participation in Sierra Leone is low, stating that only 13% of women are holding both political and elective positions in the country.
She said at the United Nations, equal participation of both men and women are paramount issue to them. She assured that they would continue to campaign and advocate for women’s participation independently for the 2012 elections and other elections so that women would be represented in positions of trust.
This training, she said, would go a long way to ensure that women are given the zeal and moral support, and noted that women can do it better as they are effective agents of change.
Giving the keynote address, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs, Madam Oya Sankoh, congratulated the women of Sierra Leone for coming together and assured them of government’s support. She further said government is committed to ensuring the 30% quota becomes a reality.
The Deputy Minister also said that the Convention on the Elimination and Discrimination of all Forms of Violence Against Women, now makes provision for women to take active part in decision making at all levels.
To achieve all these however, Madam Sankoh said there should be a strong political will for the advancement of female ad gender empowerment.
Launching the document, UN Women Regional Director, Dr. Josehine Odere, said it’s high time for more investment to be made on women issues. She said the UN is willing to provide independent support for women’s empowerment and development.
When women are elected in positions of trust, they should not allow themselves to be disconnected from their duties and responsibilities because a lot of investment has been made to ensure that women are elected and selected, said Dr. Odere.
In realising all of these, Dr. Odere said that women should be ready to develop themselves and willing to face the challenges of becoming leaders and role models in society.
The chairman of the programme Dr. Abubakarr Kargbo, Chairperson of the National Commission for Democracy (NCD), in his opening remarks said that he is very happy that women have come together from different parts of the country, from different backgrounds and political belongings to put their interests forward.
As women, the chairman noted they should be the first to put their interests forward so that they could be favoured and supported by men.
After the war in Sierra Leone, he noted that the women are now aware of their values because of the role they played during the war, which means that women can do it better as they now have a space in society. He also informed them that the campaign would ensure that women know what they want, how to get it, how to achieve it when they are aspiring for political and decision making positions.