185 women mentored by USAID project running for office in Sierra Leone

Through the USAID-funded Women Empowered for Leadership and Development (WELD) project, World Vision worked in seven districts in Sierra Leone, where women are not well represented at Parliament or local council levels of government (see chart below of women elected to office in the past four election cycles).

WELD increased women’s social, political and economic rights in the country by working with government ministries and other government bodies, civil society organizations, and communities as well as providing women with needed training (like public speaking) and starting savings groups for economic support. We are excited for and proud of the women who are running in the upcoming election!

Sierra Leone will hold national elections on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, and 185 women who were trained and mentored through WELD have been nominated—20 for Parliament and 165 for local council. Here are some developments around the 2018 elections we’re particularly excited about:

  • Josephine Mackieu, who was nominated for Parliament in Kenema district, attributes her success to training from WELD. She outshone her opponents because of the public speaking skills gained through WELD supported trainings and the support she received from savings group members. She is confident that she will win in the coming elections. She has clearly indicated in her manifesto that she will champion women and girl child empowerment.
  • Zainab Mansaray was nominated to run for local council in Port Loko District. She attributes her success to the WELD project and vows to tackle rampant child marriage and teenage pregnancy in the area.
  • Zainab and Josephine received support from savings groups in their chiefdoms. They mobilized their social funds and contributed to their campaigns. The savings group members are also conducting door-to-door campaigns to lobby women and men to vote for these female candidates. WELD supported the formation of these female dominated savings groups.
  • The WELD project supported a national consultative conference in December 2017 so female candidates could advocate political party executives to waive nomination fees for female candidates. After the meeting, Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) waived nomination fees for female aspirants and refunded those women who had already paid.
  • The WELD project supported engagement meetings between female candidates and traditional leaders such as the paramount chiefs. Paramount chiefs signed and issued a communique that outlawed secret society activities that would prevent women from campaigning. Women are now free to campaign without any fear from secret society activities.
  • WELD facilitated engagement meetings between civil society organizations (CSOs) and the female candidates. CSOs are currently protecting these candidates from abuse and intimidation from their male counterparts. They are also lobbying the electorate to vote for women in the coming elections.

We are grateful that USAID granted World Vision an additional one year, $1.86 million extension so we can continue to support these female candidates through the election cycle!

This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the responsibility of World Vision, Inc. and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the Unites States Government.