Elizabeth Simbiwa Sogbo-Tortu was disqualified from running for chief in an election in her home country of Sierra Leone, because she is a woman.
Not only was she barred from the election solely based on her gender, but as of Monday, she could not return to her home because it had been besieged by members of a Sierra Leone traditional group and her convoy pelted with stones. She has taken refuge in the capital and at the time was being protected by armed police, UN officials, and women’s rights campaigners.
Women are barred from becoming chiefs in the Northern Province and most of the east but they are allowed in southern Sierra Leone. Ms. Sogbo-Tortu lost an initial appeal against the ban leaving women’s rights advocates determined to bring her case to the Supreme Court.
“Ten of us were in the race including my nephews, and I was the only one denied the right to stand, despite being the eldest and coming from a ruling house,” Ms. Sogbo-Tortu told the BBC. “I want the courts to rule that it is my right as a woman to become paramount chief in my home district. And this is not just about me. It is about women all over the country.”
Links to further inform and inspire:
Want to do more than read? Get pro-active in women’s issues:
Amnesty International- Women, Violence, Poverty- Breaking Free of the Gender Trap
Madre- Demanding Rights, Resources and Results for Women Worldwide
Awid: Association for Women's Rights in Development- Calls for Participation
photo: public domain
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