The 50/50 Group joins other civil society groups in expressing concern about the recent spate of events, including the death of a number of persons during the Pademba Road disturbances, and in particular, the arrest of a number of high-profile women, including Madam Isata Saccoh, partner of Major (Rtd) Alfred Palo Conteh and Dr. Sylvia Blyden – former Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs.
At present, the reasons for these arrests have not been made clear. Given our current climate, this lack of information can provide fodder for speculation, raise tensions and deepen political divisions.
Furthermore, in light of the threat that Sierra Leone faces in COVID-19, the country must stand united, if it is to succeed in this fight.
The arrests, and attendant speculation, accusations and counter accusations are taking attention away from this common enemy and undermining our fight against this disease.
The 50/50 Group is thus calling on government to be transparent in all its dealings, including regarding the arrests of these women.
We wish to remind all those responsible for their wellbeing to ensure that they are treated fairly, that their rights are not violated and that COVID-19 safety protocols are observed to safeguard their health.
Finally, we urge the two main political parties to set aside partisanship and to refocus the attention back to our common battle against COVID-19.
We also call on party supporters to refrain from using social media to incite and sow division.
We call on party leaders to present a unified front, and to work together to eradicate a disease that has already claimed eight lives.
Outside of these deaths, we know that women and girls often suffer the most during pandemics as lockdowns and school closures make women vulnerable to sexual gender-based violence, while as caregivers’ women are often at the forefront of any response.
Thus, we also call on authorities to implement a gender sensitive approach and include women at all levels of the response.
The 50/50 group stands ready to support the government in this fight while calling on them to ensure that women’s rights, and indeed, the rights of all citizens are not sacrificed in the effort.
About the 50:50 Group
The 50/50 Group is a non-partisan organisation, advocating and campaigning for an increased political participation and equal representation of women in decision-making processes and initiatives at all levels in Sierra Leone.
Its Vision: Equal representation and participation of women and men in public life in Sierra Leone’s political life and in governance processes at all levels.
The 50/50 Group specifically envisages the following:
- A female president
- 50% representation of women in Parliament, Local Government and decision-making positions at all levels.
- The existence of a coalition of women that forms a critical mass of capable women who serve as a resource in the country and provide support to other women aspiring for leadership positions.
The 50/50 Group mainly works through its members and targets organized groups such as networks of women NGOs, media organisations, community-based women’s groups, traditional and religious leaders, and local government structures at the community level.