By Gloria Ikibah
The Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS, Hon. Sidie Mohammed Tunis, has reiterated in ensuring increased women representation in politics in the sub-region.
Speaker Tunis stated this in his goodwill message at a sensitisation campaign organised by the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarian Association (ECOFEPA), on proportional representation of women in politics: Scaling up Political Partnership between Men and Women in Freetown the capital of Sierra Leone.
The symposium is aimed at unleashing the Potentials of Women in Politics in the ECOWAS Sub-region.
Tunis said since its inception, ECOFEPA has been committed to defending “the cause of effective participation of women in the political process with the aim of increasing their number in high-level positions”.
In her opening speech, the Leader of the women caucus in Sierra Leone and a member of ECOFEPA, Hon. Veronica Kadia Sesay, assured that “ECOFEPA is committed to strengthening the capacity of women and youth aspirants in politics and entrepreneurship.
“It is also devoted to establishing an enabling environment for them to flourish, network with Members of Parliament and other political aspirants within ECOWAS Countries. Again, the Association will constantly provide mentorship opportunities in collaboration with parliamentary networks of male and female Parliamentarians within and outside the ECOWAS sub-region”.
Hon. Sesay, who lamented the low representation of women in elected offices, called on governments of West African nations to speed up actions to fully implement the 30 percent affirmative action for women's political representation.
She celebrated with women from Sierra Leone on the passage of the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment bill into law.
“Again, I am certain that this program is timely and also reinforces ECOFEPA strategic objectives to boost women and youth participation in politics and decision making at all levels.
“Since the GEWE quota will go into effect ahead of Sierra Leone's upcoming presidential, parliamentary, mayoral, and local council elections on June 23, 2023. To energise this, ECOFEPA deemed it fit to organize this sensitization campaign to re-enforce the call for 30 percent female representation of women in politics and decision making in the next election and at all levels. We are here to make an urgent call to action that female and male political practitioners are supposed to work side by side with unity of purpose to ensure that we deliver the dividends of democracy to our citizens.
“Again, ECOFEPA is wasting no time to hold dialogue sessions with the major political party stakeholders, Chairman, National Electoral Commission, Chairmen of All Political Parties, Civil Society Networks, Women and Youth Networks in Sierra Leone, to ensure that the provision of the Act is reflected in the number of seats allotted to women at all levels at the forthcoming elections as well as in the Administrative Structure of the Political Party Executive Positions”.
According to her, ECOFEPA Strategic objectives are anchored on leadership, inspiring hope by giving voice to women and youth on issues affecting qualitative representation in ensuring women and youth retain their potency in governance.
And this makes mandatory capacitating the citizens of ECOWAS to be abreast with parliamentary businesses which aids in closing the knowledge gap for better service delivery in the future.
“This further recognises that for women to have a voice, they need to be equally represented at all areas of decision-making and be able to participate with impact, through the removal of all forms of barriers.
“Also, please allow me to take advantage of this special occasion to call on all the Leadership of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, the Head of the ECOWAS Institutions and Agencies, Civil Society Networks, Development Partners, Women and Youth Organizations, to support the advocacy for the Enhancement of the Powers of the ECOWAS Parliament through Direct Universal Suffrage. This consequently eases the dual functions of its Members and further provides additional opportunities for our teeming youth to perform their innovativeness.
The representative of the Sierra Leone Electoral Commission, Marian Sia Mojjueh, explained the formula of women's political representation as implemented by President Julius Madda-Bio.
Monjueh said: “There is need to increase the quota for women representation in the parliament. This event is basically to stimulate growth between men and women.
The Sierra Leone Electoral Commission had done a lot to encourage women participation. We put women in the highlight of activities.There have been considerable fees reduction for the nomination list.
“The system promotes national cohesion and reduce money politics. Women must aspire to take ownership of their place in politics”.