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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Applauding the Women of Sierra Leone Post Elections

Yesterday, the Sierra Leonean election results were revealed to the public, and the celebrations began. Here at Women Change Africa we have been closely following the elections and the involvement of women in it so to conclude our series of updates we wanted to applaud the women in Sierra Leone on a job well done in pushing a peaceful elections process. In meeting and speaking with many women during pre-elections, and during the elections in Sierra Leone, the messages were very similar, women all wanted peace.  I had the opportunity because of  my place of work in speaking with many women from various civil society organizations and also Sierra Leonean women who were voters. Through it all women were determined to vote, and encouraged other women to vote. Members of the situation room were responsible for training and deploying 700 women and youth who were to educate people in various regions of Sierra Leone. In speaking to some of the leaders of the organization we found out that many of the women were heavily involved in preaching peace during the campaigns in the provinces of Sierra Leone and also in Freetown the capital city. Women voters during the day of elections came out in overwhelming numbers. What was interesting was that women came much earlier in the morning and many of them accredited this to the fact that they had to go home and cook and take care of their children.

Young women who were interviewed as much as they were tired and some waiting for long hours were excited to be voting and knew their voice mattered. One thing I noticed was that though there were many women's activist groups there was a divide between many of them, and if this gap was changed things would be better for women. As far as political participation, the buzz around Freetown was that the women's political participation rate had dropped and women's rights activists though upset about it knew that the work must still continue and expressed that they were determined to make sure that happened.

In the next five years Sierra Leone will have another round of elections. My question is how much would things have changed for women? will there be more women in political parties? The work has to start now as many women and political aspirants echoed, "we cannot wait until the elections to begin the work". That said I am wishing and hoping for more political engagement on the hands of our Sierra Leone sisters, as rome was not built in a day, I am sure it will take time but change is on the horizon. In the mean time we say congratulations to a re-election of Mr Earnest Bai Koroma and we look forward to progress in our country for women and other citizens of our country.
Women waiting in line to vote 

Banner at the women's situation room

Key women stakeholders in Sierra Leone 

Media campaign ads with a female perspective

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