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Cablegate: Freetown Nomination: 2008 Secretary's Award

VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFN #0583/01 2681751
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251751Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY FREETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1401

UNCLAS FREETOWN 000583

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/IWI, Andrea Bottner and AF/W

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWMN PREL KPAO PHUM SL

SUBJECT: FREETOWN NOMINATION: 2008 SECRETARY'S AWARD
FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE

REF: (A) STATE 037570, (B) STATE 23653, (C) STATE 12871, (D) STATE

126072

1. Embassy Freetown is pleased to nominate Sierra Leone's Chief
Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Christiana Thorpe, for the 2008
Secretary's Award for International Women of Courage. We believe

SIPDIS
Dr. Thorpe has shown exceptional courage and leadership throughout
her career, most especially during the 2007 national elections, and
that she has directly contributed to the advancement of women and
the promotion of women's rights in Sierra Leone. Below is the
requested information.

2. Full Legal Name: Dr. Christiana Ayoka Mary Thorpe

3. Current Job Title/Association: Chief Electoral Commissioner of
the National Electoral Commission (NEC)

4. Date of Birth: August 16, 1949

5. Country of Birth: Sierra Leone

6. Citizenship: Sierra Leonean

7. Address: National Electoral Commission, 15 Industrial Estate
Wellington, Freetown, Sierra Leone

8. Telephone: +232-22-76-611-525

9. Email: christiana_thorpe@yahoo.com

10. Passport Number: Sierra Leone S003583

11. Detailed Justification:

As Chief Electoral Commissioner and Chairman of the National
Electoral Commission (NEC), the independent entity charged with
managing all aspects of Sierra Leone's elections, Dr. Thorpe ensured
that Sierra Leone's recently concluded 2007 Presidential and
Parliamentary elections, the first civilian-led elections since the
10-year civil war ended in 2002, were credible, democratic, and
transparent. Dr. Thorpe was appointed as the Chair of NEC in 2005
and her tenure to date has been no less than outstanding and
courageous.

Although she came under tremendous pressure from those in power, Dr.
Thorpe steadfastly refused to compromise her belief that free and
democratic elections must be a cornerstone of Sierra Leone's growth.
As Sierra Leoneans eagerly awaited the electoral results, which
ultimately brought the opposition All People's Congress (APC) into
power on September 17, 2007, Dr. Thorpe became the target of
increasing threats and scurrilous media attacks meant to scare her
away from upholding the credibility of the process and exposing
fraud at the ballot box. Courageously, in the face of personal
danger, she refused to be intimidated. By doing so, she ensured
that the voice of Sierra Leoneans was heard and guaranteed a
peaceful transition of authority from one political party to
another.

Dr. Thorpe received accolades from Sierra Leoneans, political
parties, elections observers and the international community for her
steadfast contributions to leading war-torn Sierra Leone further
along the path of democracy and stability. Her quiet strength and
impartial determination throughout the elections has become a beacon
for all Sierra Leoneans to move forward together in unity. Perhaps,
most importantly, her leadership has inspired all Sierra Leoneans to
respect the important contributions of women, not only within Sierra
Leone, but throughout Africa and the world.

Dr. Christiana Thorpe's entire career has illustrated her dedication
to the advancement of women. She began her professional career as a
teacher and principal. Recognizing the need to address the high
number of girls leaving school early, Dr. Thorpe became involved in
promoting the advancement of women in her school and local
community. She worked with grassroots women's groups to improve
literacy among women, to promote self-worth among girls, and to
sensitize women to their civic and moral duties. In 1993, she
became a member of the Basic Education Secretariat in the Department
of Education, where she developed and advocated for a new system of
education that encouraged the education of all children - male and
female. Because of her outstanding work on the Secretariat, she was
appointed the Under Secretary of Education in 1994 and elevated to
Minister of Education in 1995, serving as the only women minister in
a cabinet of 19. As Minister of Education, she continued to promote
girls' education. In 1995, Dr. Thorpe also launched the Sierra
Leone chapter of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE).
FAWE works to support women and girls in their efforts to gain an
education. In Sierra Leone, FAWE has provided girls' with school
scholarships, established girls' clubs that promote self-esteem, and
provided life-skills training to young mothers. Under Dr. Thorpe's
leadership as Chairperson, FAWE membership in Sierra Leone has

surpassed 1,000 members and reaches every district of the country.

For her unswerving and courageous loyalty to women, the ideals of
democracy and the development of Sierra Leone, Embassy Freetown
firmly believes that Dr. Thorpe deserves to be recognized as an
International Woman of Courage.

12. Dr. Christiana Thorpe was notified of this nomination on
September 15, 2007.

PRATT

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