The National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone finally completed its calculations for the presidential election; the winner, President Ernest Bai Koroma, will serve another five-year term.
International observers have declared it a transparent election; it is particularly commendable that it was a very peaceful event, given the huge turnout of 87.3%. The main opponent, Rtd. Brig. Maada Bio continues to complain of irregularities, a complaint we hope will be settled peacefully through the judicial system.
As he enters his second term, Mama Salone perceives President Koroma’s challenges ahead to include gender equality issues, particularly in national leadership. A look at his current cabinet list reveals a chronic absence of women, which we find to be a sad state that is ripe for drastic change. This is a great opportunity for him to make gender parity in Sierra Leone’s leadership his legacy as he serves his last term in office.
However, to affect this change in the next five years of President Koroma’s administration, the onus is on women of Sierra Leone to make it an urgent national issue that is put on the front burner during this period. Women must vigorously persist in their quest for a 30% quota as a catalyst for many other gender issues that warrant change.
Most crucially, women must erase all superficial lines (tribe, religion, class, educational status, etc.) that divide and render them so ineffective in fighting for their rights, due to lack of cohesiveness among them. This is not a change that only elite women can effect, it is not going to happen without the participation of ALL women of Sierra Leone; a critical mass who will tackle it from various angles using all talents and skills sets.