Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Women in Local Government

I would like to post for you some extracts from an opinion piece written by Samuel Tarawally, which appeared on the allAfrica website (30th June 2008) - I think it should be essential reading.

Sierra Leone: Women in Local Government
Concord Times (Freetown)
Opinion: - 30 June 2008 - Posted to the web 30 June 2008
Author: Samuel Tarawally

"Political participation in any form is the action to participate and vie for power. It is the access to the guarantee of fairness and justice in peoples lives. It is stimulating, challenging and an opportunity for both women and men to contribute to their society. And no matter what issues really influences society, political participation is the effort to expend, to achieve power and in-turn derive a change, a policy or result, which is in the best interest of society.

From ancient Africa, women have assumed power in their own right. Women ruled in early Austronesian societies from Polynesia to Madagascar including the Philippines and Indonesia even in West Africa. This is no strange phenomena. Women participation all over the world, and the consequent impact it will have on our political cultures, is thus at a crucial transitional point. Growing recognition and acceptance that women bring different and unique talents to the world of politics has resulted in women making remarkable headway in different political structures during the latter years of the century.

Women constitute a resource that no country should ignore in terms of their potentials. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience to contribute thereby improving the quality of decisions. Women can influence decisions made at local level to ensure that they are gender sensitive and are able to support the empowerment of women. Women in local government can be a conduit for women in communities to communicate their concerns and aspirations to the local authorities. In addition to playing a critical role in the advancement of women, they can use their experience as an opportunity to build a consistent, personal stature and confidence to stand for national elective office.

The absence of women in any elective body means that the concerns of over half the population in cities, towns and villages will not be addressed. Until the percentage of women in leadership positions reflects women percentage of the population, they will remain outsiders. But when women get involved, their voices are heard and their power is taken seriously. When they tuned out, remain uninformed, or refuse to participate, they hand the future to others. When women stand up, speak out, organize and fight for their positions, they encourage others to do the same, empower the less powerful and sometimes win positive change.

Women's perception of themselves and their place in society has changed dramatically over the years owing to certain social factors and to the immense influence of feminist thoughts and actions. Women have come to some consensus that politics has to be transformed, and that political transformation needs active involvement of women."

These are just excerpts - the whole article can be (and should be) read at:
Sierra Leone: Women in Local Government by Samuel Tarawally (30/06/2008)

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