They expressed gratefulness for the support they received from traditional leaders who recognize the value of women, and supported their leadership roles in political governance.
In the release the women stated: “We are however concerned about the conduct of political parties and their supporters prior to the elections. The tone of language of representatives of political parties, the heavy presence of the military, high political intolerance, and the manner of organization of political activities brought fear on the electorate especially women and the aged. We experienced some level of violence that posed unnecessary risks on the hard earned peace recently being enjoyed by the country after 11 years of war time. We experienced political parties not embracing contest of ideas on how to promote good governance and responsible citizenship, but rather rely on the use of words that add no value to our desire to become a middle income country by 2035.
These are warning signs and symptoms that the government, the UN, other development partners and civil society actors must start acting now to mitigate, contain and disrupt any triggers of violence and political intolerance. Efforts must be made to increase dialogue between citizens and political actors, while encouraging actors of political parties to see themselves as Sierra Leoneans first, and to promote the patriotism necessary and sufficient for the cultural, social and economic transformation needed for attitudinal change. Transformation begins with responsive and responsible political action where the government and its citizens develop the power to hold their minds to the pursuit of truth with an infinite patience for individual and cultural differences, and using such differences to build, identify, nurture and sustain democratic responsiveness. That is our call on the government and its development actors. This is the time to act before it is 2017 or 2018.
We call on all local and national authorities to continue to engage communities and the government on political tolerance, electoral, peace, and civic education, and good governance to bring about successful local and national elections in 2018.
We specifically call on all political parties to preserve tolerance, and unity in the country by engaging their supporters to remain responsive and responsible citizens, committed to the patriotic ideals of the state.
We call on them to continue to reform cultural and traditional structures that disempowered women and to create an enabling environment for them to live in dignity and respect.”
The Kailahun Women in Governance Network (KWGIN) was founded in2010 by 100 community based women groups (5300 members). By 2015, its membership had risen to 107 women groups (6600 members) through the support of Christian Aid, the Hamilton Family, DFID and SEND Sierra Leone. It mobilizes grassroots women and empowers them to advocate for the empowerment of women and for their rights to be respected, valued and included in decision making.