Skrevet af Mohammed Corgay, 28/11/2017.
In all the communities fantsl is working with, fantsl has organized a pre-network meeting with the stakeholders in order to map out the strategies for female participation in decision making processes in the local communities. This activities has expanded Fantsl network and knowledge about local power structures concerning females and has enabled local Community Social Organization (CSO) platforms. The female leaders, together with the Board of Fantsl were responsible for these meeting. Participation of both sexes were important and equally prioritized.
However, The following below are some of the facts we gathered from the reports sent by the communities involved:
The issue of women’s participation in decision making in Sierra Leone is a serious concern. A lot of activists are standing up for especially women’s civil and political Rights. However, to rather understand equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes, the following four inter-related concepts are identified.
1. Political Participation, which allows for political agendas to be developed by women ‘taking part in policies’ through a range of activities such as discussion and debate, lobbying and activism in formal and informal ways.
2. Political Representation, which consist of the articulation and presentation of political agendas of given groups by various actors in decision making arena and key social forums in democratic societies.
3. Political Leadership, which cuts across both political participation and political representation, key individuals (women) shaping political agendas, taking the lead in articulating these and participating in their translation into policy. The context into which these concepts are unfolding today in Sierra Leone also needs to be taken into account.
4. Political Accountability, which is the requirement for representatives’ organizations to be responsible for their decisions and mandates as defined by their positions. It also includes representatives and leaders listening to and, when appropriate, acting upon criticisms, requirements and demands of their public constituencies or the electorate.
To include women in decision making involves their enhanced presence as well as their empowerment through such participation. Their leadership and accountability are key cross-cutting issues. Let us make women in Salone responsible to their constituencies and publics. This accountability becomes the cornerstone for the numerical enhancement of their presence and their ability to transform outcome.
How can we achieve Women’s Representation at all Levels?
In order to achieve women’s full participation and representation at all levels, there must be agenda equality across a full range of decision making levels:
• the three branches of government – the legislature, executive and judiciary- at all territorial levels including women’s policy machineries;
• non-state contexts such as trade unions, political parties, interest groups, professional associations, and businesses/private sector;
• Beyond national governance, women need to have decision-making presence in regional, sub-regional and international organizations
• trans-national social movements;
• fora for the prevention and resolution of conflict and peace building.
It is utmost important to have equal numbers of women and men in political office because of the following reasons:
• The justice argument – women account for approximately half the population of our country and therefore have the right to be represented as such
• The experience argument – women’s experiences are different from men’s and need to be represented in discussions that result in policy-making and implementation. These different experiences mean that women ‘do politics’ differently from men.
• Interest group – the interests of men and women are different and even more conflicting and therefore women are needed in representative institutions to articulate their interests
• The democracy argument – the equal representation of women and men enhances democratization of governance in both transitional and consolidated democracies
• The symbolic argument – women are attracted to political life if they have role models in the arena
• The critical mass argument – women are able to achieve solidarity of purpose to represent women’s interests when they achieve certain levels of representation.
Role of Men
The predominant presence of men in political institutions is the major obstacle of women’s equality. Men should promote gender equality policy development. As allies, they can support women’s initiatives and movement in their effort towards equality. Men should put pressure on other men to allow women handle public positions either through direct elections or selection.
Some of the local powers in our communities are:
c. Headman and Headwoman
d. Mammy Queen
f. Youth Chairman and Chairlady
g. tribal Headman
h. Pastors and Imam
i. Teachers etc