By Foday Moriba Conteh
An exclusive interview conducted by this medium on Thursday 10th August, in the Office of the Minister of State, Vice President’s Office on Tower Hill in Freetown, the newly appointed Minister of State, Hon. Manty Tarawalli, who is a development expert and politician, has shed light on her role and responsibilities.
It could be recalled that Hon. Manty Tarawalli was appointed to this new position after four years of serving as the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs where she led the development and enactment of the ground-breaking Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) Act 2022 which has increased women’s political participation and leadership opportunities through Affirmative Action as well as providing improved social protection for women in the country.
Speaking during the interview, the Minister stated that as the Principal Assistant to the Vice President, her current portfolio comprises the supervision of national multi-sectoral programmes delivered under the Office of the Vice President, which include the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Scaling up Nutrition (SUN), Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (SLEITI) etc.
She added that her role includes global representation and engagements with multilaterals on national development issues and the designing and management of large-scale multi-donor development projects.
Hon. Manty Tarawalli stated that her supervisory role on the national multi-sectoral programmes delivered under the Office of the Vice President which include the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Scaling up Nutrition (SUN), Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (SLEITI) etc. are very important towards the development of the country, adding that all the three initiatives work towards the fulfillment of international benchmarks and standards.
She pointed out that as the Minister of State she has the responsibility of ensuring that Sierra Leoneans understand the benefits of those initiatives to the country, adding that in most cases people know about the initiatives but are not aware how those initiatives are benefitting or will benefit them as Sierra Leoneans and the country as a whole.
The Minister further pointed out hoe those initiatives will contribute to the attainment of the Big Fives as envisioned by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, stating that during her tenure as Minister of State collaboration with relevant stakeholders is very key owing to the fact that her role is connected with Ministries, Agencies and Departments, adding that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Scaling up Nutrition (SUN), Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (SLEITI) etc. have lots of benefit for the country which she said many are ignorant of but said her role now is to unpack those projects in order for Sierra Leoneans to understand the benefits associated with them for the development of the country.
She said that most of the projects under the Office of the Vice President are inter-ministerial and multi-sectoral projects of which she reiterated that as Minister of State she will ensure there is collaboration with different Ministries and sectors in order to achieve the aspirations of the New Direction Manifesto especially on His Excellency Big Five.
Hon. Manty Tarawalli stated that among her current plan is to ensure that there is a collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Civic Education and the media in order to popularize the contributions of the Office of the Vice President towards fulfillment of the agenda of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio of which she said there had been a gap over the years, furthering that the other plan relates to strengthening the projects that are currently under the supervision of the Office of the Vice President. She said they will look at new priorities, how they should ensure collaboration, integration and better involvement and participation from other Ministries that are also involved in the delivery of those projects.
“The President His Excellency has outlined the Big Five so our focus is the Big Five, what is the contribution of the Office of the Vice President to the Big Five. We already have these projects but we need to unpack them to see what their contributions are, strengthen where there is need to do so and communicate the successes to Sierra Leoneans,” she noted.
In another development, the Minister of State also used the opportunity to inform all that due to her outstanding performance at her former office, the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, especially on the enactment of the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) Act, a delegation from Harvard University will coming to Sierra Leone this month to do a case study on the enactment of the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) Bill by the Government of Sierra Leone.
She said that she was fortunate during her tenure as Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs to attend the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program which supports Government Ministers with pivotal economic and human development-related responsibilities to exercise purposeful leadership and achieve transformative policy goals of which they became aware about the enactment of the GEWE Act by the Government of Sierra Leone.
Hon. Manty Tarawalli said that the delegation will have engagement with key stakeholders including President Julius Maada Bio, the Speaker of Parliament and herself as former Minister of the Ministry.
She commended the enactment of the GEWE Bill as a very important milestone in the development of women in the country, adding that due to the enactment of the Bill the country now has 41 Female Members of Parliament.
The Minister said that other countries have over the years failed to enact the bill but said Sierra Leone stands tall over them all adding that such was made possible because of the presidential will and the collaboration and dedication of the lead person to follow through the entire process.
“In all of these I want to assure all that I did not let them down as Minister of Gender and I will not let them down as Minister of State. There is a lot to do here and thankfully I have a supportive Boss in person of the Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh and there is a lot to learn from him out of which I am sure there will materialize results,” she concluded.