Women threaten to boycott polls unless given right to own land
---Sierra Leone women campaign against denial
A conference on women’s rights to Land and justice has ended in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, with the launch of a nationwide campaign on Land rights, and a threat to withhold their crucial votes in the November elections if authorities fail to heed a key demand.
Women, who constitute 60-80% of the agricultural workforce, rarely own land titles or property in this country, either individually or jointly with their husbands.
But the women of Sierra Leone are threatening to boycott the upcoming November presidential and general elections, if the government fails to pass a law giving women rights to own their own land.
"This time around women of this country, the women present here are saying until and unless the land rights law is passed, they are going to hold onto their votes,’’said Madam Gladys Briamah, Coordinator of Sierra Leone’s Southern Province.
According to a report released after the just ended Freetown conference, the denial of equal land, property rights and access to education put Sierra Leonean women at greater risk of poverty, disease, violence and homelessness.
The report also says in order to promote development in Sierra Leone, it is critical that women be entitled to own their own land and have property rights.
WADR’s Freetown Correspondent Mohamed Konneh reports.
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According to the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) Sierra Leone is ranked 66 out of 86 in the 2012.
“The country was ranked 100 out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index. The country’s human development index score is 0.317, ranking it at 158 (out of 169). Sierra Leone’s gender inequality index score is 0.756. Sierra Leone is not ranked on the Global Gender Gap Index,” SIGI said.