KHADIJA SESAY, FORMERLY OF OGI: OPENING NEW CHALLENGES AND NEW OPPORTUNITIES
By Kabs Kanu, Public Relations Officer, WIMAGE.
At a recent meeting of the international elections monitoring and observer team in Washington DC, USA, that she now heads, Madam Khadija Sesay laid down the marker: “Wherever we go to monitor elections, gender parity is very important. We have to know how many political parties are involved and how many women are engaged in these parties. “
As other international elections observers in the group listened with keen attention, Khadija Sesay continued: “ And after the elections are over, we must find out how many women clinched power and we will present a report and then set up the Global Agenda on Women (GAOW) project which we want to establish in every country we have observed elections. We want to ensure that women receive a 50-50 percent chance with men in the governance processes of their countries “.
Elections monitoring and observation as well as ensuring women’s participation and engagement in every country is the new challenge and opportunity the hard- driving go – getter former Chair of Sierra Leone’s Open Government Initiative ( OGI ) and Open Government Partnership ( OGP )has now set for herself.
The OGI and OGP were essential arms of the government of Sierra Leone that were geared toward ensuring transparency, accountability, and civic participation in the governance processes. Under her leadership, these organizations received acclaim from world organizations.
Encouraged by the successes of those two programs, which received wide stakeholder international recognition and funding, Khadija Sesay, burning with an enduring passion to make a difference in the world, embarked on a new challenge when she founded the international organization, Women in Auditing and Monitoring Global Election ( WIMAGE) which has already made its mark by observing and auditing the presidential and general elections in Kenya, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
Talking to a team of journalists from Sierra Leone recently, Khadija Sesay said that she formed WIMAGE to use it to help reinforce the gains of democracy, transparency, and accountability in the democratic governance of countries around the world, with a very strong bias towards ensuring the actualization of the noble ideals of women’s inclusion and participation primarily in governance and leadership.
Having accrued tremendous experience heading the OGI and OGP programs in Sierra Leone, Madam Khadija Sesay is confident that she will succeed in empowering women and involving them in governance, which would not only promote good and inclusive governance but would also be instrumental to the achievement of the goals of humanitarian agencies, government bodies, and investors seeking informed decisions regarding gender participation and capacitation efforts.
It is a big responsibility but Khadija Sesay told journalists that she loves challenges in her quest to make the world more inclusive, more democratic, and more peaceful and stable. When the OGI was set up and she was called by former President Ernest Koroma to head it, Sierra Leoneans saw a huge challenge coming to rest on her shoulders but through hard work, good planning, commitment, and teamwork she made it. She believes that the same will happen with WIMAGE.
She is delighted by the progress already made by the organization. “Our presence has been felt in the countries where we have audited and monitored elections already. “ The organization is growing in international stature, and in global engagements and partnerships.
In Kenya, at the end of its monitoring and observer mission, WIMAGE set up the Global Agendas On Women (GAOW PROJECT), which is an action plan document/report to be implemented within the next electoral cycle. Through deep and sustained consultative meetings with the stakeholders, and working with civil society groups, WIMAGE will develop a project Action Plan in Kenya and every country that will explore the possibility of raising the number of women participating in political leadership and governance in future elections.
Khadija Sesay knows that when the WIMAGE GAOW Project Action Plan takes root and succeeds around the world, the organization would have helped the United Nations achieve Goal 5 of its Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs). Gender equality, according to the UN, is a fundamental human right, and a necessary foundation “for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world, “ which it wants to achieve by 2030.
In Nigeria, WIMAGE has established global partnerships with the WOMEN’S FORUM in Nigeria and the GLOBAL PEACE MOVEMENT INTERNATIONAL.
The Women’s Forum is a combination of women’s organizations in Nigeria devoted to the promotion of women’s rights, global good governance, human rights, and constitutional leadership. The Global Peace Movement International is a UK-based international human rights, good governance, and anti-corruption non-governmental organization. As the name suggests, the organization is geared towards the propagation and promotion of respect for fundamental human rights, lawful, equitable, transparent, and progressive governance, and sociopolitical and economic integrity in the world.
Working with these two important and eloquent advocacy and monitoring groups has given WIMAGE more international grip and presence that will help it achieve its goals and aspirations– And more strategic partnerships are expected.
WIMAGE is not resting on its oars. The organization has already put its shoulders to the wheel to prepare to audit, monitor and observe elections coming in Gabon in August and Liberia in October.