The Club of Madrid encourages Sierra Leone’s President to support women politicians; inaugurates resource centre in Parliament for women MPs
A Club of Madrid-CGG delegation, led by Former President of Cape Verde Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro and Ugandan former Minister Miria Matembe, promotes further political involvement of Sierra Leonean women through affirmative action
• Sierra Leone President Ernst Bai Koroma committed to the delegation to give his assent to a law on affirmative action or constitutional quota system in favour of women in politics if passed by parliament.
• Women Ministers and Deputy Ministers, along with civil society groups, agree to submit a cabinet paper to the President on affirmative action and to work together on a common platform to promote the agenda to achieve women’s participation in political leadership.
• Women from civil society, public and private sectors elaborate an Action Plan for Women in Politics to work towards a common agenda to increase the participation of women in political leadership.
Freetown, April 10, 2008. - The Club of Madrid, in partnership with Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), organized a fourth and final mission of the African Women Leaders Project to Sierra Leone, 7-11 April. Drawing from the lessons and conclusions of the previous three missions, the objectives of this mission were to: continue advocacy efforts to create a greater commitment from key political leaders in Sierra Leone to increase women’s political participation, seek the commitment of leaders in establishing a conducive environment for women’s participation through gender quotas in the electoral and political party systems; strengthening and building capacity of female candidates for the Local Government Elections; and provide support to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs to develop a strategy to strengthen and enhance its role to respond to the promotion of gender issues.
The visit is part of an initiative called the African Women Leaders Project (AWLP) funded by the European Commission and the Canadian International Development Agency, through the Club of Madrid in partnership with CGG, to support and strengthen women’s participation and performance in politics and high level leadership positions. The project is implemented in 3 countries in Africa: Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
The delegation was led by Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro
, the Former President of Cape Verde, and Miria Matembe, former minister and parliamentarian of Uganda and the African Union Parliament.
The members of the delegation were honoured to meet with the President of Sierra Leone, Ernst Bai Koroma. At this meeting, delegation leader Pres. Monteiro acknowledged his commitment to women’s issues and encouraged him to continue involving women in political life by appointing more women to high-level leadership positions. Miria Matembe also encouraged the President to continue this commitment of eliminating the barriers to women’s participation in politics by taking advantage of the current constitutional review process and to support affirmative action, as this was the best way to promote women’s political participation. The President agreed with the delegation and encouraged women of Sierra Leone to lobby the parliamentarians to support the quota system during the constitutional reform process. The President committed to give his assent to this law once passed by Parliament.
At a meeting with the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Women’s Affairs, deputy ministers, high level officials of the Ministry and civil society, it was agreed that there was an urgent need for a caucus for women leaders in decision making positions to take advantage of the constitutional reform process and to push forward their demands for affirmative action. The women political leaders agreed to work together on a common platform with women civil society groups to submit their proposal on the quota system to the President for his consideration and support.
The Club of Madrid delegation participated in a dialogue with women leaders that brought together more than one hundred women’s representatives from grassroots women’s groups, national and international organizations, the media and the armed forces, among others. The women briefed the delegation on the current challenges that women face in Sierra Leonean public life. Pres. Monteiro and Ms. Matembe shared their experiences and made recommendations that helped the women to develop an Action Plan to push their demands and achieve their common goals. The action plan focused on the following issues: 1) addressing the threats and impediments for women’s empowerment and political participation; 2) develop and strengthen political will on the part of government to support women’s empowerment and political participation; 3) forge action on the part of government and international partners in furtherance of women’s empowerment and participation; 4) build a vibrant women’s movement in furtherance of women’s political participation; and 5) mobilise broad based participation at all levels.
The Club of Madrid delegation facilitated a dialogue among political party executives and female political party leaders and members of parliament. The delegation encouraged political parties to establish objective and transparent rules that promote the participation of women in political leadership. Political parties are the gateway to women’s participation in leadership and must work towards implementing strategies to embrace the principles of affirmative action within political parties.
At a training session with the staff of the Gender division in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs, Ms. Matembe advised the department to clarify its role and prioritise its activities in view of the limited resources available to the ministry. She advised the Ministry to focus on the gender Acts passed in 2007, and simplify, translate and distribute the information to the public thorough an intensive sensitisation programme.
The Club of Madrid delegation also visited the Annie Walsh Secondary School the oldest girls School in Sierra Leone to support CGG and FAWES effort to promote and sensitise young girls to prepare them for leadership positions in the future. The club of Madrid members motivated and encouraged over 200 secondary school girls to develop goals and a desire for leadership positions as they grow up.
Hon. Miria Matembe will conduct today a capacity building training for women candidates to the Local Government elections.
The Club of Madrid and Campaign for Good Governance are pleased with the achievements of the project and expect to follow up on the recommendations and plans developed in the project.
Information about the African Women Leaders Project
The African Women Leaders Project (AWLP) is an 18-month initiative that provides support to women leaders in Sierra Leone and two other African countries. Four missions are being organized to Sierra Leone, where Club of Madrid Members and experts share leadership experiences related to increasing women’s access to decision making in the social, economic and political spheres with political decision-makers. Project activities are structured around three pillars: political leadership capacity building and gender awareness sessions; building of sustainable international networks; and advocacy actions. The project is being implemented in Sierra Leone in partnership with the Campaign for Good Governance and in association with the Network of women Leaders and Parliamentarians. The European Union and the Canadian International Development Agency fund the project.
Club of Madrid – Democracy that delivers
The Club of Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience and resources of its Members – 70 democratic former heads of state and government. In partnership with other organizations and governments that share its democracy-promotion goals, the Club of Madrid provides peer to peer counsel, strategic support and technical advice to leaders and institutions working towards democratic transition and consolidation. www.clubmadrid.org
Campaign for Good Governance
The Campaign for Good Governance is an advocacy organization promoting good governance and human rights in Sierra Leone. The organization has a national representation and focuses on four programmatic areas: decentralization and local governance, access to justice and realization of rights, security sector reform and civil society strengthening. www.slcgg.org