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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

President Koroma; Bridging The Gender Gap Taking The Gender Debate To The Next Level
By Captain Saio S. Marrah (Rtd) Expert in International Relations and Security Studies
Apr 24, 2013, 17:14
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The global under representation of qualified women in leadership positions has created a gender gap in many areas of the workforce. Society has determined that only men make good leaders; therefore it persists to rebuff access for women seeking leadership positions because they are socially constructed as either not fit to lead or their male counterpart are better for the job.

Women who seek leadership positions face artificial barriers and consequently many give up their ambitions because they become overwhelmed in dealing with socially constructed obstacles.

 

His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koromas unprecedented and extraordinary determination to break the ominous and portentous dichotomy in the gender saga in Sierra Leone is exceptionally impressive.

 

Historical documents attests and contemporary interactions underscore that Sierra Leone has never lacked talented, robust, determined and progressive (avant-garde) women in all spheres of life. From good mothers to professional and caring school teachers, from considerate and compassionate lawyers to unbiased and judicious judges, from sympathetic and empathetic nurses to  concerned and kind-hearted doctors, from vigilant and heedful police officers to brave and courageous soldiers, from robust community leaders to eloquent parliamentarians. The profound question is, what really prevented president Koromas predecessors from fully empowering our women?


Captain Saio S. Marrah (Rtd)

Looking at what President Koroma has achieved in little over five years in bridging the gender gap, one begins to wonder the likely position of our women - had previous leaders genuinely promoted them in our society. That said, let me make it categorically clear that Im not casting all the blame on our previous leaders. I say this because, a portion of that blame should be taken by our complacent women or those of our sisters that have decided to maintain the status-quo or loosely put..accepting the unacceptable fetid culture of doing business as usual.

 

From now on, I encourage and urge the women of Sierra Leone to emulate the following personalities; Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Hon. Minister Diana Konomayie, Brigadier Kistoria Kabbia, Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh, to name but four. In the subsequent paragraphs, an attempt will be made to demonstrate the rationale for using the aforesaid personalities as role models for our girls and women in Sierra Leone.

 

The simple rationality it could be argued is that, in as much as these distinguished Iron Ladies are quite distinct in their professions and disciplines; they all share a common trait. What is that trait? The answer will follow as we proceed with the argument so please have a sip of water and continue reading.


Dr. Sylvia Blyden
is the Executive Adviser to President Koroma. Her academic background is medicine but today the world recognises her as an ardent, objective and professional journalist. This charismatic and enigmatic Medical Doctor ventured into the Media business few years ago and today one can convincingly posit that she isnt only a prolific writer but an objective and fearless one. She has proved to be  an egalitarian and a humanitarian honed to protecting human rights, an intrepid and audacious mouthpiece for the vulnerable (women and men), and now a sprouting and blooming  politician charged with an enviable Machiavellian position of chief adviser to (the Prince) President Koroma.  Having genuinely deserved that position decorated with a Cabinet rank, we are rest assured that Dr. Sylvia Blyden will give the right and best advice to President Koroma in terms of general nation and societal building and furtherance of our Foreign Policy.

 

Hon. Minister Diana Konomayie is the Minister of Local Government. She didnt hail from a political family but in little over a decade, Diana Konomayie has become a sparkling image in Sierra Leone.Originating from the most controversial district in terms of politics and politicking, this young, dynamic, self-reliant and innate politician has demonstrated that assertive and confidence women can achieve whatever goal they set ahead of themselves. Her interactive politics at the highest echelon garnished with her political philosophy of grassrootism in Kono District and elsewhere depicts her as one of the most popular politician in Sierra Leone at the present moment.

 

Brigadier Kistoria Kabba is the first female Infantry officer to attain such an enviable, decorative and prestigious position in the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and arguably in West Africa. As a War Veteran and battle tested officer, shes an epitome and an embodiment of strict military codes of conduct ensuring that the concept of equal opportunity is observed within that credible institution. Brigadier Kabba shattered the permeable traditional and conventional misrepresentation of the Army as quintessentially a masculine job; by outpacing and outperforming many of her male counterparts in terms of general assessment. She is respected for her sense of discipline, dedication, steadfastness and her unique quality of accomplishing tasks within the required time frame with a job well done has been the pinnacle of her eminence. She is meticulous and thorough - therefore reward soldiers according to their mettle there by maintaining and upholding the core principles of the military.


Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh
is the first female Chief Justice in Sierra Leone. Like Brigadier Kabba, Chief Justice Umu Jalloh also dismantled the status-quoist mentality in this sacrosanct and revered institution by becoming the first female to attain such a prestigious and significant position. Her outstanding legal prominence pooled with her ethical and moral distinctions in handling sensitive judicial issues has brought serenity and confidence in that institution. She must be admired for standing firm against political interference in order to maintain and protect the conceptual theory of Independence of the Judiciary.Chief Justice Umu Jalloh is an altruistic individual who is determined to eradicate injustice in Sierra Leone but at the same time very firm in eliminating impunity.

 

A quick perusal at the achievement of these Iron Ladies portrays a single message. It denotes and as earlier argued, notwithstanding their different disciplines and backgrounds, they share a single trait.They are strong and independent women who have challenged and conquered the societal preconditioning and have become the women they are.These women are all confident and progressive and have effectively dismantled and shattered the anachronistic societal preconditioning and cultural construction of women aimed at denigrating them.

 

These women never went around begging for the 50-50 quota or the 70-30 quota as other staunch feminist are perambulating the streets of Freetown on a daily basis begging or rather coercing for them to absorbed in leadership position. Dr. Sylvia Blyden and others fought hard and challenged anybody and anything on their way to achieve their goals. Be mindful that, even if the so called 50-50 bill is enacted into law, if we do not have high performing women as those listed above, it will just be a beautiful piece of document that will never be implemented.

 

In as much as we want to see more women in leadership positions, having the likes of Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Chief Justice Umu Jalloh and Brigadier Kistoria Kabba will make us proud. So its high time our girls and women buck-up and tighten their belts to wrestle their way up and desist playing the cheap mind game of requesting for a quota. The status-quo must be assertively challenged and not negotiated but again substance will determine the gender saga. The gender equality problem is not a feminist battle but an intellectual one therefore, enlightened men must be seen and heard positively and assertively engaging in this debate.


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

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