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Sierra Leone: First lady vows to support women empowerment Featured

First Lady, Sia Nyama Koroma has pledged her commitment to promote women empowerment to ensure gender disparity in governance. She made her remarks at ENCISS during a stakeholders meeting yesterday facilitated by Christian Aid-Sierra Leone.

According to Mrs. Koroma, gender equality in governance from the political and social point of view is to ensure the empowerment of women to take part in decision-making and policy implementation at all levels.
 
She maintained that the discussions centered on womanhood should be about developing interest in how they can be empowered “to take their destinies in their own hands.”
 
She suggested that for gender equality to be a reality in Sierra Leone, women at all levels and in all statuses should come together to exploit the opportunity provided by the constitutional review process to ensure that what makes it legal are engrained in the constitution.
 
“We should try now to reconsider ourselves as a unit, by speaking with one voice and aiming at one objective if we should surmount the huge challenge of overcoming the inequalities we face as women in the governance of our motherland,” the First Lady stated.
 
Mrs. Koroma opined that the issue under review should be “a matter of must” for women, even if it has to cost their lives. She related the struggle for gender equality in Sierra Leone to the struggle for educational freedom by the children of South Africa, Soweto in 1973. In that country, she stated, the children made their voices heard even when it cost their lives.
 
“If children in South Africa could fight and die for their rights to the extent that the African Union and African countries including Sierra Leone every year commemorate the sacrifices those children made for their voices to be heard, we as women can do just that; let us fight for our rights with one voice,” she called. That was why she said she in the meeting to reassure her fellow women of her determination to fight through whatever obstacles there are to achieving gender equality in Sierra Leone.
 
“I am here today because I want to assure you that as the First Lady of the land, I determined to support you in every path of the walk to freedom,” the First Lady asserted.
 
Delivering the welcome address, Mrs. Jeanne Kamara, Country Manager of Christian Aid Sierra Leone, disclosed that the process to achieve gender equality started in 2012, noting that the meeting is a start of many more meetings that would be held to discuss women issues in relation to the constitutional review process.
 
“For women’s concerns to be addressed by the constitutional review process is what all of should set ourselves as a major objective,” Mrs. Kamara said. A lawyer Consultant at the Ministry of Gender, Women and Children’s Affairs, Finda Koroma, noted the appreciation of the international community of Sierra Leone’s commitment to the 30% quota for women in governance, but pointed out that this commitment is being challenged by the lack of economic empowerment of women in the country. “This is because there is no policy on women empowerment in the country,” she maintained.
 
According to her, the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone makes no provision for gender as compared to the 1996 Constitution of South Africa that has a whole Article 14 that affirms gender equality. She also mentioned the 2003 Rwanda Constitution which she stated, is probably the best in Africa in terms of gender equality.
 
She drew the attention of women to concentrate mainly on the expunging of Article 27, ensuring the inclusion of the 30% quota for women in governance and the establishment of a Commission on Women Empowerment and Gender Equality during the constitutional review process.

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