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I made it amidst the Challenge……. Thanks to ActionAid

Counselor Isatu Sesay

Women into Politics

The political arena in Sierra Leone has beheld male dominance for far too long. Women have stepped up to challenge the existing  status quo and change the narrative with regards political participation. Women’s participation in politics with the introduction of multi-party politics in Sierra Leone. Women see it fit that the glass ceiling no longer holds, and this should be broken and ulter the Patriarchal mind set .

Isata Sesay, 46, Counselor Ward 203 in Kambia district is one of such women that benefited from ActionAid has builded her capacity to challenge the narrative and got it changed. She is being successfully elected as Counselor during the past election. “I am very greatful to ActionAid, those Women rights training did not go in vain..nowi can represent my ward in council without no hesitation".Isata informs.  When she met ActionAid, her capacity started to be built on various Women's right and political participation issues. “we started with rights of women and that of girls, how can these rights be protected, those were the first engagements with ActionAid” Isata explains.

In these forums Isata, started to stand out, and she became more interested in the issues of women and girls right “when we sense this zest, we started empower her further for the engagement of other women in different communities on the issue of gender and other rights” Duramany Kamara, Kambia Local Right Programme (LRP) project officer informs. Seeing that her capacity is really built, she then starts the journey of entering the political arena “Its was not easy at first, even my husband frowned a bit on the idea, but with my convincing power, I won him over and then the resistance starts crippling from the male candidates” Isata informs.

I am very greatful to ActionAid, those Women rights training did not go in vain..nowi can represent my ward in council without no hesitation

As one of the candidates contesting ActionAid created the platform for her to start engaging various communities through various medium “we paid airtime for her on various radio stations. We also assist her with a token for her to be moving around doing her campaigns” Duramany Kamara again. As a capacity venture also, ActionAid engage them (female Candidates) through political manifesto development, facing and dealing with male dominated crowd or sessions and message development “this training came in very handy to us, and this helped me a lot” Isata informs.

During the political period Isata faced stiff competition from 3 male candidates “it was not easy as these men have money more than me and have a great base, but with the training gained from ActionAid, I faced them and defeated them hands down” Isata happily informs. Being a counselor now, Isata’s focus is the issue of teenage pregnancy and early marriage as this is on the increase in the district and her constituency as well “I am beginning to engage mothers for them to see the benefit on education and discourage the idea of joining their husbands in giving their children’s hand in marriage when they are below 18Isata.

Isata is among women that ActionAid has helped in developing their capacity and have supported to challenge the present status quo as well as the narrative. ActionAid believes that getting more women into politics will be a better advocacy drive wherein the rights of Women and Girls will be advocated for and at the end of the day get them protected. After serving her term as counselor, Isata  aspires to become a parliamentarian in the next election come 2023.

Jonathan Bundu