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Marie Jalloh, “Dogs came, vehicles came, they wanted to kidnap me"

Marie Jalloh, MP for Bombali district, one of 17 female MPs out of a total 120
(Anna Jefferys/IRIN)

Marie Jalloh is a Member of Parliament for Bombali district, Sierra Leone. She entered politics after graduating with a Master's degree in communications and gender development from Njala University in the capital Freetown. She spent many years working for international aid organisations, including in Guinea, where she and her family fled during the war. She ran for political office in the 2007 elections and won.

“I faced a lot of intimidation when I was campaigning. I’m only the second woman in the history of this region to become an MP. My husband thought I was crazy. I had a good job and I’m doing this for less money, but I want to make a difference. I have been a women’s activist for years.

“People in office in my district used all their power to try to eliminate me from the race. Dogs came, vehicles came, they wanted to kidnap me. A gang of youths intercepted me on my way home one day, and warned me not to return there – that I would be taken away.

“I went to the police station but then later I thought they might turn against me so I escaped through a narrow gate and spent the night in the hospital quarters. For the next week I moved around, never in the same place twice. But I had connections, and I told a lot of journalists what was going on.

“My husband lost his job because of me. They asked him to resign to try to get to me.

“Women need to be economically and academically strong and steadfast if they want to make it in politics in Africa. Women here are not economically empowered. If you don’t have money you can’t even campaign.

“I want to see my people grow and change. That is why I went into politics."

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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