Coordinator of Youth Alliance for Peace and Development (YAPAD), Bockarie Ensah, has returned from Dakar, Senegal, after successfully representing Sierra Leone at the Alumni Enrichment Conference.
At the conference hosted in Dakar from 30th November 2010 to the 2nd December 2010, the revered youth activist presented a brilliant paper on the topic: “Gender Issues and their Relations to Politics”.
Ensah left the shores of Sierra Leone on the 28th November 2010 to participate in the conference that attracted participants from various countries, and returned home on 5th December 2010.
The international forum was organized by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) Office of Alumni Affairs, U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, at the conference room of Le Meridien President Hotel.
In his presentation, Bockarie Ensah said politics is a process by which various groups of people make collective decisions. “The term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, but politics has been observed in other group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. It consists of social relations involving authority or power,” he said.
Gender, he said, can be defined as a set of characteristics that are seen to distinguish between male and female. “Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity,” he emphasized.
Ensah explained that the Sierra Leone government has committed itself to guaranteeing fundamental, civil and political rights, irrespective of gender, to its citizens. “These rights which form the basis for democratic elections are anchored in international human rights instruments recognized by Sierra Leone,” he noted.
He however pointed out that Sierra Leone has a background of deep conservative and cultural traditions, adding that the general male dominance in politics has resulted in continued discrimination against women.
“Women’s representation in Parliament after the 2002 elections was 14.3% (16 out of 112) and in 2007 election 14.3 % (16 out of 112),” he disclosed.
He said the past government maintained three women in cabinet, adding that the present government have only one female minister.
He however noted that gender laws have already been enacted, though the level of implementation leaves much to be desired.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.