A Conversation with Nemata majeks-Walker

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NR: What motivates you?

11 years of a brutal rebel war had just ended in 2001.Peace had been achieved through the blood, sweat, tears and suffering not only of the men who’d gone to the front lines, but also of the women of who had lost so much.

Then came the elections later and nothing had changed –the women were sidetracked: the composition of the new government builds to reflect that crucial part men had played in bringing peace to the nation.

Women constituted 52% of Sierra Leone’s population. This was not reflected in the elected bodies.

Before the 50/50 Group was founded, there were only:

  •  8 Women out of 124 MPs
  •  2 women out of 24 cabinet ministers? Zero % Mayors/Council Chairs
  •  4% in executive committees of political parties
  •   10% in Local Councils.

I was determined to reverse this situation and announced this is in the name of the group I formed-the 50/50 Group.

We fight for women’s EQUAL REPRESENTATION with men in all spheres of governance, especially in Parliament and in Local Councils.

NR: What is the 50/50 good about?

The 50/50 Group of Sierra Leone

Mission: – The 50/50 Group of Sierra Leon is a non-partisan camping for more women in politics and public Life is training and advocacy.

Vision: equality for all.

Ensuring an equal split of political power between men and women in public life within a traditionally male-dominated political system.

Aim: to change public perception of Women in politics and encourage and empower women through training and advocacy to seek and achieve public office and participate in politics and public life.

NR:What are the objectives of is 50/50?

Ensuring an equal spilt of political power between men and women in public life within a traditionally male-dominated political system.

 To advocate that barriers against women in politics be removed.

To increase women’s participation in democratic politics and other decision-making bodies.

To lobby for there is the Zipper system of representation in politics-i.e. One man one woman.

To sensitise remain about the need for them to buy for Parliment and local council seats.

NR; And what are these barriers?

We summarise the barriers preventing women from participating in politics using one of our analytical tools called the the 11 c’s:

  1. Culture: politics is a man’s game, a woman’s place is in the kitchen.
  2. Context: Lack of solidarity among women gives men the upper hand.
  3. Caring for the children and other members of the family.
  4. Cash strapped with never enough money to go into politics.
  5. Confidence: Women lack this to embark on a political career.
  6. Corruption: Politics is usually perceived as a ‘dirty game’.
  7. Co-operation: There is a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.
  8. Constitutional Constraints: Constitution condemns and prohibits discrimination but is silent on discrimination in Politics.
  9. Capability: Majority of our women are illiterate.
  10. Cronyism: Men benefit from Old Boys’ networks, women don’t
  11. Communication: Poor communication among women.

NR:What are the key achievements of 50/50?

The first female Minority leader of Parliament in Sierra Leone was trained and mentored about the 50/50 group

50/50 Club set up in its schools and the 50/50 chapter at Fourah Bay College,University of Sierra leone.

After 2007/8 campaign, to do stateside females stood as independent candidates and were elected for the first time ever.

Many women secured non-traditional positions like head of NEC, from Chief Justice, Brigadier, Head of Audit, Registrar General NRA etc.

A notable achievement has been building the 50/50 groups headquarters and gender and women’s leadership training Institute.

50/50 HAS ALSO SUCCEEDED IN GETTING:

  •  50 % women in Ward Committees
  •  4 out of 24 Full Female cabinet Ministers and 7 deputy Ministers
  •  13.5% female MP’s in Parliament
  •  7% female Mayors/Council Chair
  • 11% women in Executive Committees of Political Parties
  •  18.5% In Local Councils

Successes

  • The first female Minority Leader of Parliament in Sierra Leone was trained and mentored by the 50/50 Group.
  •  50/50 Clubs set up in eight schools and a 50/50 Chapter at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone
  • After 2007/8 campaign, two districts had females who stood as Independent candidates and were elected for the first time ever.
  •  The first female Minority Leader of Parliament in Sierra Leone was trained was trained and mentored by the 50/50 Group
  •  50/50 Clubs set up in eight schools and a 50/50 Chapter at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone
  •  Many women secured non traditional positions like head of NEC, Chief Justice, Brigadier, Head of Audit, Registrar general NRA etc.

SPEARHEADED THE FORMATION OF A COALITION OF WOMEN’S GROUPS TO UNDERTAKE ACTIVITIES TO HIGHLIGHT AND ADDRESS THE GENDERED ASPECT OF THE EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE

  •  We succeeded in addressing women’s felt needs tangibly. This helped women cope during the outbreak.

We documented “HER-STORIES “ In order to have a formal record of women’s stories during the EVD outbreak, to ensure that women’s perspectives and experiences were memorialised and shared. Additionally, it served as a trauma- healing and empowerment intervention.

NR: What next for 5050?

  • Strengthening our efforts by networking across sectors – education, business and industry, culture and arts.
  • Strategise to increase influence as well as numbers – focus on key institutions, roles
  • Women must have a common agenda and must realise that this is not about self- interest but about the development of our nation
  • Recognise that any progress we make may lead to resistance and back

After 2007/8 campaign, two districts had females who stood as Independent candidates and were elected for the first time ever

  • Many women secured non traditional positions like head of NEC, Chief Justice, Brigadier, Head of Audit, Registrar general NRA etc.

NR: thank you very muchDr Nemata.We wish you the best of luck and hope the 50/50Group continues to go well strength to strength

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Author: Khadijatu Mansaray

Entrepreneur, Publisher, Activist.Born and raised in Sierra Leone.Formerly an accountant is passionate about Africa, Literature and social justice.

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