In Sierra Leone, women and youth make up for over 70% of the population but women are the least represented in governance on the community, district and national level. Out the 132 ordinary members of parliament, only 16 are women leading to less than 15% representation. Women and the youth are the most affected by decisions made through the legislature and executive but do not have an active say in those decisions. SEND Sierra Leone together with its development partners is keen to strengthen the collective voice of women, increase their knowledge and capacity on gender and accountability at the community, district and national level. We are also committed to increasing the national advocacy and networking on women participation in decision -making, governance and politics.
The Government of IrelandProject Implementing Partner:
SEND Sierra LeoneProject Location:
Eastern Province (Kailahun, Kenema and Kono districts), Sierra LeoneDuration:
1/4/2019 - 30/04/2020 with possibility of extensionProject Budget:
€300,000 for the first year.Project Thematic Areas:
Women in governance.
Contact details and contact
In Sierra Leone women and youth make up more than 70 percent of the population and are the main labour force in the economy, yet they are the most impoverished and least represented in the governance of the country. Of the 132 Ordinary Members of Parliament elected in the 2018 General Election, only 16 (12 percent) are women. In 2018 only 2 out of the 14 Paramount Chief MPs in Parliament are women.
Women’s participation in governance at community, district and national levels is limited to handful of positions. Moreover, a decade after the passage of the Four Gender Acts, which were intended to free women and girls from the bondage of traditional beliefs and practices, violence against women continues unabated.
Existing international laws and policies advocate for gender equity in decision-making and political participation, as outlined in documents such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. More recently, the UN General Assembly in a Joint Declaration on “Advancing Women’s Political Participation” declared, “women’s political participation is fundamental to democracy and essential to the achievement of sustainable development and peace”. However, Sierra Leone is long way from achieving the standards laid out in international codes, with structural discrimination against women entrenched across all levels and institutions of society. This inhibits the participation of women in public life and decision-making at all levels. The 2018 EU Election Observation Mission report findings (pages 28-29) indicate that women were clearly disadvantaged in these elections. None of the major parties had a woman as a presidential candidate or running mate. There were two female presidential candidates, however they only gained 0.5% and 0.2% in the first round. There were four female running mates in a field of 16. The number of female parliamentary candidates was 100 out of 795 (12.6%). While the total number of female MPs slightly increased to 18; taking into account the increase in the overall size of the parliament, this election marked no progress in the percentage of female MPs at 12.3%. Sierra Leone is ranked 144 out of 192 in the world for the lowest percentages of elected female politicians. There were 73 women elected out of the 489 local councilors (15%). There was a palpable lack of will among male politicians to address the reasons for low female nominations.
The More than a Woman: Strengthening Women’s Participation in Politics and Governance project implements actions to contribute to the SDG Goal 5, the Sierra Leone National Development Plan of 2019-2023 (SLNDP) and lessons learned from previous actions of SEND and Irish Aid in Sierra Leone to empower Sierra Leonean women to achieve more for gender equality, and to increase women’s participation in politics and governance.