Created by African women to solve an African problem

Mar 14, 2018

Polling day in Freetown, Sierra Leone © Lilah Gaafar/UNDP Sierra Leone

On 7 March 2018, Sierra Leone went to the polls to vote in Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections

Receiving reports of incidents around the country – from monitors, but also the general public – the Women’s Situation Room operated 24/7, with youth trained to take calls and log information for intervention.

With data, political, media and legal analysts present, as well as representatives from the Office of National Security, the police, and the National Electoral Commission – there was a free flow of communication in the room, providing real time conflict resolution at the “drop of a dime,” according to Yvette Chesson-Wurreh from Liberia, who founded the Women’s Situation Room.

She explained that the initiative was born out of violent outbreaks during Liberia’s 2011 elections.

“I called women’s organizations together, and we discovered that the primary culprit was the media. The media was inciting violence, so we called them and told them what we’d noticed.”

“We trained the media on two things, how to report responsibly and how to report with a gender lens – there was a stark improvement.”

“Then we turned our attention to the youth through peer to peer peace advocacy, and those that had been involved in violence then became ambassadors for peace in their communities.”

It was through engaging youth at a district level, and enabling women and youth to have ownership of peace in their communities, that the Women’s Situation Room in Africa was first established.

Liberia became a best practice to the African Union and the program was replicated in seven countries.

Described by the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Sunil Saigal as “an important element in the democratic process,” the Women’s Situation Room is a stand-alone project that contributed to peaceful elections, funded by the Government of Norway.

The United Nations Development Programme provided technical support to the setting up and functioning of the Women’s Situation Room in Sierra Leone. 



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