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Sierra Leonean Women Are High Performers; Taking The Gender Debate To The Next Level
By Captain Saio S. Marrah (Rtd) Expert in International Relations and Security Studies
Jan 13, 2015, 17:15
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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. Empirically speaking, societies have determined that only men make good leaders; therefore it persists to rebuff access for women seekingleadership 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 artificialbarriers and consequently many give up their ambitions because they become overwhelmed in dealing with socially constructedobstacles.    

Historical documents attests and contemporary interactions underscore that Sierra Leone hasnever lacked talented, robust, determined and progressive women in all spheres of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.

From now on, I encourage and urge the women of Sierra Leone to emulate the following personalities; Police Assistant Inspector GeneralMemunata Konteh Jalloh,Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Dr. Sarah Bendu, Hon. Minister Diana Konomayie, Brigadier Kistoria Kabbia, Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh, Haja Kallah Kamara and many more. 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 reality 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?

Captain Saio S. Marrah (Rtd) - Expert in International Relations and Security Studies

Police Assistant Inspector GeneralMemunatu Konteh Jallohis arguably the most proactive and dedicated senior female police officer not only in Sierra Leone but Continent Africa. You will definitely agree with me that due to her diligence and assiduous attitude anchored on her sense of discipline and readiness to confront danger, AIG Mememu (as she is commonly known) is the most respected if not feared police officer in Sierra Leone.AIG Memunatu Konteh Jalloh has effectively shattered the conventional misrepresentation of the Police Force 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, enthusiasm, steadfastness and her unique quality of accomplishing tasks within the required time frame with a job well done. These and many other high profile qualities has been the pinnacle of her eminence. Thank you for serving the nation. Bravo!!!

Dr.Finda Sarah Bendu is the Director of Sierra Leone RoadSafety Authority (SLRSA).This soft-spoken but thoroughly minded lady is equipped with strategic planning and excellent execution skills of policies geared towards road safety networks in Sierra Leone. Her enviable and unique ability to revisit and revise archaic and quiescent policies in this all important department designed to provide safety for people demonstrate that Dr. Bendu has propelled the SLRSA way ahead of other departments/institutions in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone Roads Transport Authority (SLRTA) as it was until quite recently called was characterised by mediocrity and patchiness. Nevertheless, as Dr. Sarah Bendu isn't afraid to venture into new technological spheres, her new plans (if implemented accordingly) will make that department a prototype in the sub-region.That said, short-sighted and parochially minded individuals will certainly not understand the rationale of some of her actions now because her plans are futuristicand ultramodern; but in due course, everyone will realise the benefit of her policies. Job well done Dr. Bendu.

Dr. Sylvia Blyden is the proprietor of one of the leading and widely read newspapers (Awareness Times) in Sierra Leone and was the first Sierra Leonean appointed asSpecialExecutive Adviser (SEA) 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 isn't only a prolific writer but an objective and fearless one. Having genuinely deserved that position (SEA) decorated with a cabinet rank, she however resigned few months ago after making some indelible contributions to nation and societal building and propelling our Foreign Policy.

Hon. Minister Diana Konomayie is the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development. She didn't 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 confident 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 politicians in Sierra Leone at the present moment.

Brigadier Kistoria Kabbia 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, she's an epitome and an embodiment of strict military codes of conduct ensuring that the concept of equal opportunity is observed within that credible institution.She is meticulous and thorough - therefore reward soldiers according to their mettle there by maintaining and upholding the core principles of the military.

Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh is the first female Chief Justice in Sierra Leone. Like Brigadier Kabbia, 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 prominencepooled 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 analtruistic individual who is determined to eradicate injustice in Sierra Leone but at the sametime very firm in eliminating impunity.

A quick perusal at the achievements 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.

In as much as we want to see more women in leadership positions, having the likes of AIG Memunatu Konteh Jalloh, Dr. Finda Sarah Bendu, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Chief Justice Umu Jalloh, Haja Kallah Kamara and Brigadier Kistoria Kabbia will make us proud.So it's high time our girls and women buck-up and tighten their belts to wrestle their way up the social ladder. 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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