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The Role of Sierra Leone Women in the Youth Commission
By Rodney Edmond Michael
Jun 18, 2010, 13:34
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Since the inauguration of President Koroma youths have been optimistic of a prosperous future with opportunities for each and every young person in the four Regions of Sierra Leone. After all it was one of his key campaign pledges and that of The APC. Its getting to three years since our President promised the establishment of a Youth Commission with options and projects intended to develop and build the capacity of our future leaders. The Bill has been passed through parliament and it has been enacted into Law through the Legal process but the excitement of The Presidents promise coming to reality appears to have faded due to the delay and obvious politicking with the appointment of The Commissioner and others to manage The Commission.

It is undisputed that having the support of youths is always a strong advantage in any Political Election (ask OBAMA), and it allows Politicians to make serious claims of assured victory. What is puzzling though is why the ruling Government has delayed the Appointments? It must realize that the sooner it becomes functional, the more convenient it will be for their Leader and the Nations President to convince the youths that he is a man of his word. It is a strong political weapon! And more confusing is that the Minister of Education has declared that donors have made available Le 6 Billion for The Commission thanks to DFIID and Co. so why the delay?

But should it be a political weapon? This is The Youth Commission that is meant to develop and determine the future of our leaders which implies that it is morally wrong for any politician, even the President, to play (poli) tricks with the Commission with hope of attaining victory in 2012. There is no doubt the President appears sincere and has kept to his promise but the time is now for His Excellency to make his appointments and allow the Youths to be directed accordingly in the smooth running of The Commission and in paving their own future.

One significant and very sensitive issue being ignored is the proposed role of women in the Commission. The 50/50 group and other equal rights activists need to campaign considerably for women to be adequately, if not equally, represented in ensuring they are protected and their future is carved out in a manner designed by women themselves.

It is our norm that men should fashion the role our women play, but upon examination of our societal values and structures, it has obviously not been working in the best interest of Sierra Leone. It is an opportunity to alter and transform our impression of the significance of women, not only as mothers of our children or other restrictive views we may hold of their reasons for being created, but as partners in National and Global Development with equal potential, if accorded identical opportunities, as men.

The President and his advisers must provide Leadership status to the young girls in every Region and provide affirmative support action (or preferential treatment) to these female youths with the ultimate goal being to ensure that the Commission succeeds, but equally as important, that women play a major role in the success and future of The Commission. There is no suggestion that women must lead, but if a female has the capacity to lead, then a little affirmative action would not be wrong or against National interest; on the contrary it will be good for the confidence of our young girls into believing that they now have equal opportunities, if they have the requirements; and it will be in the interest of the Nation to encourage equal rights and opportunities.

There have been many suggestions of one region or the other unwilling to accept female Leadership, but what better opportunity would we have as a people to sensitize our kids of the importance of selecting the best candidates and not just the male candidates to major positions? The 21st Century and the first decade could be dedicated to the minority with Obama becoming the first black President of America and Ellen Sirleaf becoming the first female President of Liberia and in Africa.

Why cant we break our taboos and societal norms by allowing young girls to hold and perform major roles in The Youth Commission? Is there any logic in assuming that women in Sierra Leone cannot lead or be very significant? Is there not enough evidence of successful female stories throughout the country for a case to be argued for some affirmative action in the appointment of Female Sierra Leoneans to manage and supervise the Commission and determine the future of our Leaders?

The President is no fool and whilst it is politically wrong to use The Commission for political gains with 2012 fast approaching, it will be no surprise if the advisory committee on the appointments suggests a reasonable quota of female representation which will end up a plausible decision provided the appointees have the qualifications and appropriate capacities to hold the positions and perform their tasks. Mr. President the time is ripe and your decision is overdue! Give the youths Their Commission and Their Future.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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