An investigation into the status of women in Sierra Leone

  • Sandra Ann Wolton

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This investigative thesis aims to gain insight into the contextual reasons for women’s low status in selected urban and rural districts in Sierra Leone through the collection and analysis of primary data that is absent from the development debate, and to examine routes of progression through combining practical fieldwork with the application of concepts referenced in my theoretical framework.

    The study has four principal objectives. Firstly: to identify the main historical, economic, social and cultural issues that obstruct women’s and girls’ progress. Secondly: to identify the factors undermining the success of large-scale development programmes intended to empower extremely poor women. Third: based on results of my research to offer recommendations that demonstrate potential to resolve main issues that obstruct women’s progress. Fourth: to examine possible routes of progression and propose ways in which they may be integrated into future policy and programming.

    I apply a semi-ethnographic, qualitative approach in collecting and analysing the key data that constitute the core of this study, comprising material drawn from interviews with women’s networks, women’s advocacy groups and community women. I contrast this data with perspectives of funders and actors responsible for delivering development initiatives – UN agencies, INGOs, senior government officials and civil servants, NGOs and CBOs. Applying this method of triangulation enables me to identify and crosscheck disconnects in development structures. I highlight the prime factors that block successful outcomes of such initiatives: the toleration of corruption; elite distancing from objectives and the absence of a dialogue between women and the bureaucratic structure.

    Based on the results from my research, I advocate the revision of development policy and programming so that it is contextual (country and district specific) and inclusive of women, fully recognising women’s role as integral in the development process. I propose the adoption of Contextual Development (CD), a comprehensive concept rooted in local knowledge that prioritises and addresses the needs of the disadvantaged as a route of progression that has the potential to improve project impact and outcome.
    Date of AwardNov 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorAndrew Timothy Thorpe (Supervisor), Ann Matear (Supervisor) & Tamsin Bradley (Supervisor)

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