She continues, “Women living in rural areas have been very keen to engage with the bill and to demand change for themselves and their local communities.”
Ms. Donnelly says that despite the Yellow Ribbon Campaign gaining huge success, many challenging questions are asked concerning the campaign, which she says need to be addressed to avoid harmful gender norms.
“We often get questions from journalists asking whose seats these women are going to take as men have retained these seats for years, and there’s often a fear that women will not be able (to take) these positions. Our feedback is always that every election cycle is a new cycle and there is no such thing as a man’s seat,” she says.
She adds that one is only elected for a period of time in Sierra Leone and that no woman is taking anyone’s position. She says that women in the country represent 52 percent of the population and have a right to be represented well in both national and local bodies.
The Trócaire official urges women to contest for political seats saying, “We’re confident to say that in the last election we trained and supported lots of women who were very capable and the ones who were successful, their constituents are very happy.”
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Ms. Donnelly makes reference to the women who are already occupying parliamentary seats and says that they are role models and need to be emulated by other women. She further says that the leaders have disproved the notion that women cannot lead.
Making reference to the Bill, she says, “We hope over time this law, if enacted, will lead to clear change and positive outcomes for women. One thing is for sure, the women of Sierra Leone are a political force that can no longer be ignored.”
Trócaire reports that in Sierra Leone, with a population of almost eight million people, just 19 percent of local politicians are women, with only 13 percent at national level.