In the Sierra Leone elections of 2012, Kailahun was the only district which exceeded its 30% quota of women candidates. 36% of councillor nominations (31 of 89) were women, with 41% (12 of 29) being elected. 28% (5 of 18) MP candidates from the district were women, with 13% (1 of 8) being elected into national office. In the long‐term, this will improve decision‐making to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised are addressed.
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- UNDP ranked Sierra Leone 177 of 186 in terms of human development (2012), with over 77% of the 6.2 million population living below the poverty line. Kailahun District recorded the second highest incidence of poverty.
- Sierra Leone suffers from large disparities in gender equality, ranking 139 out of 146 in the UNDP Gender Inequality Index (2012).
- The government of Sierra Leone has a target of 30% female candidates for representation in public office. However, scant resource and effort is put into enforcing the target – In 2004 women accounted for 14 of 124 MPs (11%) and in 2008 they accounted for 17 seats (14%). This figure dropped to 15 seats (12%) in the recent 2012 elections.
- In 2008, 4 of the 37 elected MPs and District Councillors in Kailahun were Women. Participation in politics and governance has been inhibited by: illiteracy; lack of self‐belief and confidence; male dominated electoral system; low collaboration among women's groups; lack of public decisionmaking experience; socio‐cultural norms which reinforce the role of women as the subservient gender; failure of political parties to nominate women candidates; traditional authority structures which promote male dominated leadership; lack of resources for campaigning.
- Women who do hold office are frequently subject to gender‐based discrimination. This limits their ability to advocate for women's issues and promote increased female participation, and also acts as a deterrent for potential candidates. Prior to the GTF there was very little support for women in positions of power in Kailahun.