CARE Sierra Leone & Gender Minister Hold Fruitful Discussions

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By Foday Moriba Conteh

In commemorating International Women’s Day in the country which is observed annually on March 8, the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Manty Tarawalli, has on Monday 7th March, 2022 held a fruitful discussion with CARE Sierra Leone on issues bordering around gender mainstreaming, women and girls empowerment etc. The event was held at CARE Sierra Leone’s Office on Tengbeh Town in Freetown.

In her welcome address, the Country Director for CARE Sierra Leone and Liberia, Yaikah Joof, disclosed that CARE is a major international humanitarian agency delivering emergency relief and long-term international development projects, adding that CARE clocks 60 years of existence in the country, furthering that initially CARE’s focus was on school food programs to improve children’s nutrition but said currently, CARE supports a youth-led network to end female genital mutilation, and is a partner with several organizations that combat gender-based violence.

She informed all that CARE uses different approaches to strengthen women empowerment programs at community levels and has placed gender equality, including women’s voice and leadership, at the centre of their Vision 2030 which according to her is in line with the global 2030 agenda for sustainable development, as well as global frameworks such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, through which the international community has committed to achieving gender equality, not only as a matter of human rights but as the foundation for a “peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.”

Yaikah Joof pointed out that CARE uses the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) as a platform to educate and empower women in different life skills including catering, tailoring, businesses etc. stating that the platform is utilized for women to address issues affecting them and to sensitize their community on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) issues while empowering them economically towards improving their financial literacy skills among others.

Commenting on the Gender Empowerment Bill, the Country Director revealed that the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Gender has introduced a bill in Parliament in October 2021 that would require 30% of electable and appointment positions to be occupied by women and that to contribute to this, CARE will collaborate with the Ministry of Gender and pre-identified national and international organizations to create enough awareness and support in the communities for the bill to pressurize their elected members of Parliament to pass the bill; and to ‘prepare women’ and create the ‘enabling environment’: build capacity of women over the next 18-24 months to ensure adequate number of women are well positioned to  stand for elections during the next election phase.

She maintained that CARE has been working on Women in Enterprise (WiE) Project which is in its third phase covering the period April 1 2020 to March 31 2022 and funded by H&M Foundation, continuing that the goal of the project is that Women have their own means of generating an income as entrepreneurs and can influence decisions that affect their lives and enterprises, at household and community levels and that CARE is ensuring that 150 Women groups are connected to digital financial products through the establishment of MiKASH books.

The Country Director said that CARE Sierra Leone’s Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) women economic empowerment program is aimed to simultaneously increase women’s personal agency and ability to influence economic decision-making, expand and increase recognition for women’s productive roles within households and the wider society and enhance women’s access to and control over economic resources, opportunities and assets.

CARE focuses on four interrelated pathways to economic empowerment: financial inclusion, women and value chains, dignified work, and entrepreneurship.

In her response, the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Manty Tarawalli commended CARE Sierra Leone for complementing the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone through their inventions as an organization.

She said that women empowerment is very critical towards the prosperity of the country, adding that the country cannot get to middle income status without enhancing the empowerment of women and girls in the country and that the issue about women empowerment is no longer an issue of fairness but of economic importance.

Manty Tarawalli revealed that women counts for about 52 percent of the country’s population and if these huge population is left behind there is no way Sierra Leone will develop of which she also commended CARE Sierra Leone for their programs that are geared towards  educating and empowering women across the country.

The Minister pointed that last year she presented the Gender Empowerment Bill in Parliament and that the bill is geared towards the empowerment of women in the country, adding that for the bill to become law political parties must take steps to ensure their constituency nomination lists for Parliamentary elections to include a minimum of 30% female candidates per district and it will also push for 30% representation for women in all sectors.

She pointed out that they also included in the revision the creation of Gender Units in respective MDAs headed by a Director of Gender and the unit will ensure gender rights are mainstreamed across every sectorial legislation, plan or policy.

She noted that as a Ministry they are joining the world to commemorate the International Women’s Day which is observed annually on March 8 in order to call for actions to advance gender equality in the country.




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