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Democracy requires trust, says Amujae Leader Isata Kabia

Amujae Leader Isata Kabia spoke about the importance of trust in democracy and the need for greater women’s representation in Sierra Leone, in an interview marking the country’s 60th year of independence. 

Speaking with interviewer Prince Kroma, Ms. Kabia expressed her desire to see Sierra Leone’s development move forward with stronger accountability and stronger democracy:

“If we continue to serve the interests of a small group, if we continue to serve with personal and private interest, even though we’re in public service, then of course we are going to move backwards.”

Pointing the finger of blame for Sierra Leone’s problems would not be the best way to achieve progress, Ms. Kabia said. Rather than taking sides, development should be “about pointing out the issues regardless of which side of the fence you sit on.

Ms. Kabia, a former Member of Parliament in Sierra Leone who previously served as Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and as Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that citizens should feel empowered to call out the officials they elected for failing to deliver on promises:

“ should trust that their vote means something, they should trust that their voice after voting means something, and they should trust that they have the right to use their responsibility to hold those in office to account. If you break down the element of trust within that system, you are depriving us of the strength of democracy.”

Discussing the value of women’s leadership, Ms. Kabia pointed out that women’s representation in Sierra Leone’s Parliament is just 12%, well below the 30% goal in the Beijing Platform for Action and the gender parity goal laid out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Involving more women in policy making has been found to bring more conversations about welfare, children’s rights, and health to the fore, she said. 

Ms. Kabia added that leaving women out of decision and policy making is “a complete disservice” to the country and the region as a whole: 

“You have 51% of your population wanting to carry the weight. Why should they not carry the weight? We are asking for work, we are not asking for favors. We want to see Sierra Leone flourish… ‘A bird cannot fly with only one wing.’”

Watch the full interview on Facebook here.

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