Gender Minister Outlines Successes & Future Plans

Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs.jpg

By Foday Moriba Conteh

During an exclusive interview with this medium on Thursday 20th January 2022, the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Manty Tarawalli, succinctly outlined the Ministry’s successes and future plans.

She first disclosed how the Ministry started full operations in January 2020 with the mandate to empower women and girls and enhance the protection of children in the country of which she said during the two years the Ministry achieved certain aspects of its mandate.

The Minister noted that when they commenced operations, the number of Sexual and Gender Based Violence cases skyrocketed and as a Ministry their first move was to come up ways and strategies as to how to prevent sexual and gender based violence against women and girls in the country. She continued that inasmuch as actions taken to curb the menace of SGBV, the Ministry also made provision for timely responses which was why the Deputy Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Hon. Hindowa officially launched the National SGBV Response Strategy during the 16 days of activism, the Ministry held a high level policy dialogue on SGBV on the 6th December 2021 further disclosing how the event attracted the participation of national SGBV response actors, UN Agencies, and donor partners.

Manty Tarawalli revealed that the Ministry in 2020 also created Six One Stop Centres with each centre providing a comprehensive set of ‘Survivor Centred Services’ for Victims of SGBV, furthering that the Six One Stop Centres provided 1, 214 services for victims of SGBV which included Medical reports: 396 – Legal Services: 408 – Psychosocial services: 408 – Safe Home: 2.

She also revealed how they also established an interim care in order to facilitate effective child protection, temporary shelter and care that was provided for neglected and abandoned children, adding that the Ministry facilitated placements of 16 children (9 boys and 7 girls) in 2021 in various interim care centres including Homes like the Variety Children, Victory Teens Orphanage, Initiative for Women and Girls Empowerment.

She disclosed further that the Ministry also worked on the review of the Child Rights Act-2007 of which she stated that the review process commenced in 2021 and has rolled out district level multi-stakeholder consultations, technical review and validation sessions with child protection partners and the children themselves and that the recommendations from the consultations and review have been submitted to the Law Officers Department for drafting of the Child Rights (Amendment) Bill.

The Minister pointed out that to strengthen ‘child protection coordination’ at national and district levels the Ministry reintroduced the Child Welfare Committees stating that the committees were re-introduced with revised terms of reference, furthering that the Ministry conducted Orientation Workshops for District Child Welfare Committee personnel, held Bi-monthly National Child Welfare Committee meetings and in person monthly district committee meetings.

“As a Ministry, in 2020 we also established the 116 Rape Free Hotline as part of our comprehensive SGBV response services for survivors. A total of 414 GBV cases were reported through the call centre in 2021. 384 were related to sexual penetration, 12 to rape, 12 to Domestic Violence and 6 to other related issues,” she revealed.

In terms of adoption, the Minister informed that to adopt a child in Sierra Leone requires the services of a lawyer and that the Lawyer should liaise with the Ministry to ensure that laid down procedures are followed of which she maintained that in 2021, the Ministry processed 73 adoption cases.

Manty Tarawalli pointed out that the Ministry developed the National Street Children Strategy in 2020 and in 2021 established the National Street Children Consortium. The consortium, according to her, is a multi-stakeholder group that includes: NGOs, CSOs and Government officials. The Consortium, she went on, developed an Action Plan for Implementation in 2022.

She continued that the Ministry also developed the Gender Empowerment Bill which was approved by Cabinet and was laid in the Well of Parliament by herself as the Hon. Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs.

The Minister maintained as part of their efforts to have an inclusive Bill the Ministry brought together its partners, stakeholders and Parliament in a Consultative Meeting that was geared towards allowing Parliament to provide constructive feedback on the position papers that she presented to the House of Parliament of which she stated that the Ministry received 15 position papers from interest groups following its nationwide consultation drive on the Bill.

She also disclosed that the Ministry also supports the Sexual Offences Court to ensure that SGBV cases are speedily concluded stating how conviction rates have increased and that a total of 322 files were sent to the court for trial. “26 cases were convicted, 45 cases discharged. Accordingly, 71 cases were completed in 2021 with a total of 251 cases pending before the court for trial,” she disclosed.

The Minister expressed optimism that in this year,2022, the Ministry will deliver on its mandate more than the previous years of which she said that as a Ministry they are pushing for the law and its implementation.

“This is the time for women and His Excellency President Maada Bio has made it clear and he is living to his words but it is important also for women to take up the responsibility. Whoever is in education, business, politics etc. this is the time because the opportunities have been created for you,” she concluded the interview.


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