Whose Seat Will Become Reserved?: The 30% Quota Campaign in Sierra Leone


Ibrahim, Aisha F. 2015. “Whose Seat Will Become Reserved?: The 30% Quota Campaign in Sierra Leone.” African and Asian Studies 14 (1-2): 61-84.

Author: Aisha Fofana Ibrahim


Post-war reconstruction efforts in Sierra Leone combined with global discourses around issues of democracy and participation have, to some extent, created a space for political engagement of traditionally marginalized groups, including women. Women’s political engagement has, in recent times, centered around a campaign for a 30% constitutionally mandated gender quota system which, it is believed, will be the most effective way to get more female representation in legislatures as well as close the wide gap that exists numerically between both genders in the public sphere. This paper seeks to examine women’s engagement with political processes in Sierra Leone, their long and unsuccessful struggle for a quota system and how all of this fits into a wider struggle for gender justice in Sierra Leone. The main argument raised in this paper is that the gender quota campaign is fraught with challenges because women in the struggle, especially female parliamentarians, have found it difficult to go beyond the borders of their political parties’ ideological stance, and organizational boundaries to collectively and successfully advance the campaign. In addition, the campaign seems to be more centralized in the capital with little or no engagement at the com munity level. Moreover, because of the widening political divide, meaningfully engaging an elite male cadre that has variedly resisted women’s full and equal participation in the public sphere remains a challenge.

Keywords: Sierra Leone, Women's political leadership, quotas, women's activism, gender equality, women legislators

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Governance, Quotas, Post-Conflict, Political Participation Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2015

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