As a proud deputy leader of Konta Bana village, Marampa chiefdom in Port Loko District, north western Sierra Leone, Aminata became the first woman ever to get elected to an influential role on 10th February 2020. Traditionally women in Sierra Leone do not enjoy equal rights, but Aminata’s new position means she can motivate more women to step up into leadership roles.
Aminata, a married mother of four, is one of 25 women who form a women’s farmer group in Konta Bana known as Tamareneh Women Farmer’s Association, Community Based Organisation (CBO). It was established through the Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities (CSOs-LAs) Thematic Programme of the European Development Fund (‘EDF’) aimed at supporting rural women and empowering them to influence local government and agricultural development processes. Aminata was selected as the group’s candidate ahead of the last election, and she won by a landslide.
Achieving gender equality in Sierra Leone has always been challenging, and Aminata’s election campaign did not go without backlash from the men she was up against.
In the run up to the elections, male candidates launched a public smear campaign against her to sabotage her election hopes. They claimed her candidacy was illegal, and made continual derogatory remarks against her because of her gender.
Despite these setbacks, Aminata and her supporters courageously carried on. They saw it as an opportunity to rally the troops and to garner more support from the men in their lives – husbands, sons, fathers and neighbours.
On the campaign trail, Aminata and her supporters raised awareness of and contested the negative perceptions of women in power, highlighting the struggles women face in day-to-day life. This enabled her to strengthen her campaign for more female voices in politics.
It was a hotly contested election, but Aminata came out on top, and was declared Konta Bana’s Deputy Leader. On winning, Aminata said, “I am very happy to have been elected Deputy Headwoman. This is the first time a woman has been appointed to such an important decision-making space in my community.”
Aminata’s success represented ground-breaking change for women in her native Sierra Leone. Overnight she became a role model for other women and girls with leadership aspirations. Decision making can transform the agenda for women and girls across the country. Women account for 52% of the population in Sierra Leone, yet women occupy less than 20% of elected positions.
Trócaire has been supporting local partner the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights
(CDHR) with capacity building as part of our commitment to localisation. Before being nominated to run in the elections, CDHR led training for Aminata and her peers, and supported them to engage their male counterparts to address issues they are facing, such as accessing and owning land, and for women’s inclusion at decision-making levels.
Throughout the campaign, CDHR worked with Aminata to support and strengthen her campaign through targeted training in leadership, public speaking and how to mobilise her network for success!
Women’s empowerment is a priority for Trócaire in Sierra Leone.
Trócaire’s is committed to women’s empowerment to shape transformative progress in eradicating poverty and hunger.
In Sierra Leone Trócaire has contributed to promoting women’s political, economic, and social empowerment working with local implementing partners supporting women across political parties who are interested in becoming leaders. Success is not only measured in terms of the number of seats that women secure, but also in terms of the number of women who take the risk of vying for office.
Trócaire continually supports women to have a voice and to be able to make informed decisions that affect their lives – empowering them within their homes, communities and beyond.