Credit: Mallam O.
Let the Women Glow and Let the World Give them their Space
By Zuliatu Cooper, Former Deputy Minister -2, Sierra Leone
All over the world, women are in a celebratory mood as some of our male counterparts have been very active eulogizing and paying sumptuous tributes on the incredible role of women in leadership and the world economy.
Today is International Women’s Day, a day set aside to reflect or discuss the challenges faced by women of all races, creed and culture. This year’s theme: “Women in Leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID 19 World” captures an existential imperative – outlining the immediate challenges we face as women to conquer the social barriers and promote leadership within our midst.
As a woman leader myself, the glowing tributes for women across the world are by no small measure a tacit endorsement of the world’s willingness to go female. I am buoyed by this prospect and I can only ask that we (women) take advantage of this to not only better our lot but remain the centrifugal force that directs and hold together the activities of families, societies, nations and the world.
In Sierra Leone, women face enormous challenges and it is even worrying to note that despite all the legal frameworks established to protect and advance the courses of women, very little has been achieved. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
At this point, it behooves every stakeholder to spare a thought on where we have gone wrong (regarding the welfare of women). Our collective resolve to change this narrative must be backed by affirmative action.
From the implementation of the 30% women representation in governance, to the full enforcement of the provision in the Three Gender Acts, and several similar statutes promulgated by the State, there has been the general consensus that indeed, women must be the real catalysts for change. To this end, I urge every woman in Sierra Leone to remain focused and keep their eyes on the ball because where there is a woman, there is magic. Congratulations to all Women in Sierra Leone, Africa and the World.
Telling it as it was: The Career of a Sierra Leonean Woman in Public Service
By Umu Kultumie Tejan-Jalloh
When public bureaucracies are weak and corrupt, national economies and citizens’ wellbeing suffer. “Telling It As It Was: The Career of a Sierra Leonean Woman in Public Service” is a compelling analysis of how Sierra Leone’s bureaucracy was rendered dysfunctional in the 1970s and 1980s by powerful interests, corruption, ethno-regional politics and nepotism.
It is the story of Umu Kultumie Tejan-Jalloh’s experiences and challenges in public service covering almost thirty years. By recounting her experiences in the civil service, public corporations and private sector in seven different jobs, the book throws considerable light on the abuse of power and corruption in the recruitment, confirmation, training, promotion and management of staff.
Reflecting on her experiences as a humanitarian worker during Sierra Leone’s war, the book also provides invaluable insights on the activities of the government’s humanitarian relief agency, United Nations institutions and other humanitarian organisations in the repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced people.
Gender issues such as polygamy, female circumcision, sexual harassment and cultural identity, as well as her experiences as a student in the United States are also extensively discussed with fresh insights.
She Survived The Journey
By Memuna Barnes
In the spirit of “Live and Become”, “A Town Like Alice”, and “Anne Franks’ Diary”, Memuna Barnes relives the terrifying upheaval and daily trauma of her capture by rebel forces and the long journey till her safe return home. This is the woman’s war story.
The devastation of family and two nations, while two prayers gave her the will to survive and the hope for freedom. She tells of her everyday life as a child, even when displaced to a neighbouring country to live with relatives not seen for years, her culture and the pleasure, trust, joy and challenges of growing within a large African family.
But the slow development of this new normality is also ripped apart by the tumultuous upheaval of the same terrorist war that sent her from her homeland. Along with her sisters and cousins – all taken captive – Memuna walks us through this new and often terrifying reality that becomes her world. During thousands of Kilometres and many many months she must also journey through childhood (cut short too soon) becoming a teenager of strength, courage and tenacity with the determination to survive responsibilities and horrors she did not chose.
She must guide herself, her younger charges, strangers that become friends and enemies, as well as the boys who carry guns and give orders, through this strange enforced life to the harrowing journey home. This is the woman’s war story.
The devastation of family and two nations, while two prayers gave her the will to survive and the hope for freedom. As this is a personal view, it is a voice that needs to be heard. Ms Barnes is one of the innocents that are the constant victims in any war.
Saved by Grace
By Lady Kadijatu Grace Ahemesah
Through the obstacles of life, one can only hope to make it, or give up and fail at it. At times you will feel the need to quit; thoughts of worthlessness will permeate your mind and if you are not careful consume your soul.
But in the depth of it all is where you dig deep and find your strength in Him, God that is, the Creator of all that is just and unjust. Man’s understanding of life is based on what he or she sees and feels, not so much as what is at the end of the road.
Yes situations may be difficult, in that you feel entrapped in numerous chains of discomfort and betrayal, but that is just a storm; it will pass and the chains will be broken.
The comfort that you need to succeed is not in man, but in the relationship you have with God, for it is He that helped me through my chains and He will do the same for you.
Thursday’s Child: My Journey So Far
By Peagie Foday
Pregnant at the age of fifteen, Peagie Foday nee Woobay thought that meant the end of her education. However, with strong family support and her own determination, she was not only able to cope with teenage motherhood but also went on to achieve a university degree.
Her hard experience prompted her to establish the Peagie Woobay Scholarship Fund to empower teenage girls in Sierra Leone, especially those who find themselves in a similar situation.