The Women’s situation Room in Sierra Leone officially close down its electoral related activities.
"We will always remember the telephone number 711..." says Moijue KaiKai, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs in Sierra Leone of Women's Situation Room23 January 2013
23 January 2013 - Speaking at the Official Closing Ceremony of the Women's Situation Room (WSR) at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown, the Honorable Moijue Kaikai, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs in Sierra Leone, applauded the women of Sierra Leone for their role in the November 2012 presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.
Hon. Moijue Kaikai, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs in Sierra Leone. Photo Credits: UN Women
In particular the Minister, who served as Chairperson of the closing ceremony, praised the women of Sierra Leone for their support in "quelling inter and intra party dialogue" and said the WSR had become a "household slogan" with the incident reporting hotline, 711, a number that remains strong in the memories of Sierra Leoneans. Hon. Moijue Kaikai also paid tribute to the media, and the role it played in keeping the country peaceful during the electoral process.
A 20-minute documentary on the overall process of the WSR was shown at the closing ceremony in addition to the presentation of the symbolic 'peace cloth' which was signed by the key actors who visited the WSR, including heads of various political parties, signifying their commitment to a peaceful electoral process. The Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, the oldest serving female parliamentarian, invited all female parliamentarians present to stand beside her as a way of demonstrating their "collective solidarity and responsibility to further the cause of women in Sierra Leone". Hon. Dr. Lahai reminded her colleagues that "the ball is now in our court" and assured the audience that "this year, 2013, the Gender Equality Bill shall be enacted".
The closing ceremony was attended by over 500 dignitaries, including the First and Second Lady of Sierra Leone, Government ministries and departments, the Diplomatic Corps, UN agencies and various women's groups, and brings to an end all activities of the WSR in Sierra Leone. The women of Sierra Leone now want to see the WSR initiative institutionalized to serve as a model for the increased participation of women in electoral and governance processes. The women have been challenged to find ways in which they could further use this
Hon. Dr. Lahai receiving the peace cloth at the closing ceremony of the WSR in Sierra Leone. Photo Credits: UN Women
platform to serve the crucial capacity building needs, not only of women interested in politics, but to prepare women in general for leadership roles in governance and other aspects of life.
The WSR is a process that African women have used to successfully promote their active participation in democratic and electoral processes, in accordance with United Nations Security Council (UNSCR) 1325. The WSR has been used during recent elections in other countries throughout the region and the success of the WSR in Sierra Leone adds to previous success within Senegal during the Senegalese Presidential election in early 2012.