WFD is currently implementing a three-year programme (2015-2018) to improve women and people with disabilities’ political participation and representation in Sierra Leone, while ongoing work to make the national parliament more effective continues. The programme – implemented by the WFD Sierra Leone office – works with civil society organisations, political parties and the Parliament of Sierra Leone to create a more inclusive political environment and give a greater voice to women and vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities ahead of the 2018 general election.
Following the end of civil war in 2002, the economy of Sierra Leone gradually recovered. However, the benefits of development are yet to be enjoyed by a majority of the population which continues to suffer from poor infrastructure, food insecurity and high unemployment. The inability to access the political debate for a large share of the population and the lack of dialogue between communities and institutions contribute to widespread poverty, poor welfare and inequality.
WFD is training Sierra Leone civil society organisations to promote engagement in the electoral process. In August 2017, following a nationwide dialogue involving 1300+ disabled people and 7 political parties, WFD and Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI) launched a non-partisan platform (National Agenda) to build consensus on policies which would help people with disabilities live a fuller and more dignified life.
WFD is also working to increase the number of women in leadership positions in Sierra Leonean political parties. In partnership with UK political parties, we are supporting women leaders who want to reach positions of responsibility and advocate for equality. As part of this strand of work, WFD will provide induction and training for new women members of parliament and councillors following the 2018 elections.
Building on the successful partnership with the parliament of the Isle of Man (Tynwald) – which led to a drastic reduction in the time it takes for Parliament of Sierra Leone to publish transcripts of sittings – WFD is now working to improve the capabilities of the research department to support legislators produce better laws.