From Linus Aleke, Sierra Leone
The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament Rt Hon Sidie Mohamed Tunis has blamed the continued underdevelopment of Africa to exclusion of women and youths in governance space in the continent.
He noted that women are builders and the decision to focus on the young women is a welcome development.
Hon.Tunis said this at the sideline event of the ongoing First Extraordinary Session in Sierra Leone tagged, “4th edition of the ECOFEPA Town Hall Meeting”.
“I would like to reiterate that one of the major reasons, Africa countries are lagging behind developmentally, compared to other continents is because women and youths have not been given their rightful places in governance,” the speaker said.
He added that the statistics of women and youth political representation within the ECOWAS Sub region is appallingly low, noting that, “We have to turn this tide quickly with total commitment and dedication to this noble course”.
He said the youths are the future and hence platforms for exchanges of ideas, experiences sharing and codifying best practices should be amplified.
He added that he is sure that Africa is aware that, a society that neglects its youth will have a difficult future.
“Targeting the women and youth at this critical time in our political space is just the strategic thing to do. This resonates with the fact that when women are given a chance in any endeavor, they excel effortlessly.
“The 5th Legislature has made a commitment to support and enhance the powers of ECOFEPA and put modalities in place towards halting the trend of low representation of women and youth in governance,” he explained.
He noted that the length and breadth of the sub-region is plagued with insecurity, terrorism, youth unemployment, and so many other social menaces which continue to clog the wheel of progress.
“It is worthy to place on record that women and youth inclusion in governance is an idea whose time has come and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that women and youths are visible and seriously engaged in policy and decision-making processes. Let me therefore seize this opportunity to thank the leadership and members of ECOFEPA for their steadfastness, despite the challenges and difficulties they encounter.
“I have no doubt that, at the end of this ECOFEPA Town hall Meeting, strategic steps will be taken by political stakeholders to ensure that women and youth are mainstreamed in politics. On this final note, I urge the young stars to be focused and think positively,” Hon. Tunis said.
In a keynote address, the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Mrs Fatima Bio adviced women to see each other as sisters and not pull each other down in their journey to the corridor of power.
She also advised young women in the continent to re-channel their energy into productive ventures.
While welcoming participants, the President of ECOFEPA, Hon. Filomena Vieira encouraged young women to seek higher education to build their leadership capacity.
She added that more than half of African population are women and therefore, the continent cannot develop without being at the helm of Affairs.
On her part, the President of Sierra Leone Female Parliamentary Caucus, Hon Veronica Sesay expressed displeasure over the decline in participation of women in parliament in Sierra Leone and ECOWAS Parliament, saying that women representation in Sierra Leone currently stands at 12 percent.
She concluded that timid women never make history while the future belongs to the bold.
The theme the meeting is “Stimulating a National Dynamics for the Identification of Potential Young Leaders”.