Sierra Leone – The government of Sierra Leone tabled a measure on Thursday that will ensure that women hold 30 percent of parliamentary seats and cabinet positions in the West African country. President Julius Maada Bio gave his approval to the effort this summer, making good on a campaign promise to increase women’s representation in politics made during the 2018 campaign.
When she presented the so-called gender empowerment bill to parliamentarians, Manty Tarawalli stated that the measure would “alter the dynamics for women and increase opportunities” for them. According to the proposed legislation, women will be required to occupy 30 percent of the 146-member parliament and 30 percent of cabinet positions in Sierra Leone, among other things. In addition, the bill intends to promote women’s access to credit and to relate government spending to the advancement of gender equality.
With additional parliamentary debates scheduled, it is not immediately apparent when MPs will vote on the bill. Women are underrepresented in Sierra Leonean politics, as they are in a number of other West African countries as well. Women presently have 18 seats in the House of Commons, which accounts for around 12 percent of the total. There are also only four female members in President Bio’s 32-member cabinet out of a total of 32.
According to the United Nations Development Programme‘s 2020 Gender Development Index, Sierra Leone is placed 182nd out of 189 countries. West Africa is home to nearly half of the countries ranked in the bottom 20. Women in Sierra Leone, a poor country with a population of 7.5 million people, are said to be systematically discriminated against, according to human rights organizations. Many women and girls are also subjected to high levels of sexual assault, which is partially a result of the use of rape as a weapon during the country’s civil war, which lasted from 1991 to 2002.