WFD helps decision-makers include people who are often overlooked so that everyone’s voice is heard and no one is left behind. In Sierra Leone, we have helped make sure citizens can access parliament and understand its work, through initiatives from open days to apps.
Hawa S. Mansaray is an advocate for women and girl's rights and equality who works for Empowering Girls Network, an organization that is advocating for the Gender Bill. Hawa is amongst several other women and members of vulnerable groups who have failed several times in their attempted bids to visit the Speaker of Parliament.
During the Parliament’s recent Open Day, WFD set up booth and gave access to several people to learn about the work of WFD and Parliament. It is during this time that Hawa and others approached WFD and requested a meeting with the Speaker and other Leaders of Parliament. Through the support of WFD, Hawa’s organization, vulnerable groups and other members of the public met with the Speaker of Parliament as part of our work with the Parliament to support it to be a more open and inclusive institution.
Among the visitors, Hawa S Mansaray and Maseray Brima put forward their cases to the Speaker. Maseray Brima, who is visually impaired and the National Coordinator of the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues, engaged the Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Bundu on several issues affecting persons with disabilities and people with special needs.
Among the issues discussed were: the enforcement of the Disability Act that was passed into law and the inclusion of women with disabilities in key governance and political positions.
“Meeting the Speaker of Parliament was a great pleasure for me. I have attempted many times to meet him but the robust protocols have hindered my efforts. Thanks to WFD for making this happen and the Open Day was also great to interact with other important personalities.” - Hawa S. Mansaray
The support of WFD to link the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues and the Speaker of Parliament is bringing more people closer to parliament, especially people with who are often overlooked who face extra barriers to parliamentary inclusion and participation.
This initiative is part of many efforts to help Parliament achieve its vision for a People’s Parliament. Recently, for example, WFD partnered with the legislature in developing and unveiling the institution’s service charter. The service charter outlines the commitment of the Sierra Leone Parliament in being a more open and accessible institution to the public. The charter details how citizens can seek and obtain information about their Parliament.
For more information, please contact Wurie Bah – Programmes Coordinator – WFD Sierra Leone by email at Wurie.Bah@wfd.org.