To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 19 June 2008, Off icial Report, column 1183W on Sierra Leone: human rights, what further steps the government of Sierra Leone plans to take to encourage more women to vote and to stand as candidates for election; and what steps his Department plans to take to support this process.
In preparation for the local elections in July 2008 the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) carried out a mapping exercise of female candidates to guide the development of focused support programmes. These aimed to motivate and enhance their skills in areas that included; developing their own manifestos and agendas; advocacy/lobbying; overcoming intimidation from males; and public speaking.
The GoSL also worked closely with non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), 50-50 Women's Group and the National Accountability Group (NAG) to develop and carry out specific training focused on the empowerment of female candidates. Some of these NGOs are being funded by DFID under an umbrella programme Promoting Voice and Transparency around elections (PIVOT).
The results of the council elections show a 100 per cent. increase in the number of successful female councillors, from 9 per cent. to 18.9 per cent.