October 1, 2022

When Eve brought woe to mankind old Adam called her woman but later when she has wooed with love so kind we call her woman removing the woe by which she was tagged. Woman was taken out of man; not out of his head to top him, nor out of his feet to be trampled underfoot but out of his side to be equal to him.

In ancient times women were always on the back foot taking care of children in the home and other domestic chores. But the gradually realized that they had to get out of that traditional cocoon as it were. In order not to be left behind women in a big way in Britain in the 18th Century started suffragette movement. This movement has had a ripple effect in which they are clamoring for representation and now they want that representation in Sierra Leone on an equal basis. Indeed according to the law of eternal justice there can be no degradation of man without himself falling into degradation. Men are indebted to women for life itself otherwise the womb can become a tomb.

In January this year members of Sierra Leone’s leading women’s advocacy 50-50 group paid a courtesy call on President Bio to discuss his position on women and girls’ empowerment and his policy to protect them.

Founder and Global President of the Group, Dr. Nemata Majeks-Walker, said they are appreciative of President Bio, especially given his passion for women in the country, adding that they had also done some good work by training and empowering women in readiness for national responsibilities. She expressed the hope that government would continue to bring more women into governance.

Outgone President of the Group, Dr. Fatou Taqi, said they were grateful that State House had spared time to engage them, adding that they were aware of the work of the President in terms of national inclusion. She expressed their support and singled out the First Lady with the Hands off Our Girls initiative which has a common goal to ensure that rape and all forms of abuse against women and girls are completely eliminated.

It should be pointed out that in all societies women have played a much more important role than their menfolk are generally ready to admit. So why should they not be at parity with men? Were they destined by God to be equal to men? Certainly not. There have been instances in which women have not only been placed equal to men but have even attained higher positions. Women have been heads of State in developing countries like Gloda Meir in Israel, Margaret Thatcher in Britain and the present head of government in Germany. In Africa we have had Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as head of State. In Sierra Leone there have been members of female Paramount Chiefs who have lorded it over men. It is not a rule but a matter of exceptions proving the rule. The non-hereditary women quoted above attained to those positions by dint of their performances and not any quotas. Women are apt to quote Rwanda which is another exception to the democratic trend.

Women should strive for real merit instead of waiting to have an easy ride. Dr. Majeks-Walker should realize that low representation of women in the governance issues is not due to mere chauvinism but the fact that women themselves who are in the majority in the community tend to vote mostly for men. Women should strive to rise by merit. Fifty percent is not easily attainable.

It is progress downhill.