Ministry of Gender & Partners Conclude 2 Days National Women’s Conference

By Foday Moriba Conteh

As part of its strides towards the empowerment of women in the country, the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs in partnership with 50/50 Group & Women’s Forum Sierra Leone and with support from the European Union has on Friday 19th March, 2021 concluded a two days National Women’s Conference on the theme: “Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Sierra Leone”. The event was held at New Brookfields Hotel in Freetown.

The National Women’s Conference gathered 200 women drawn from all districts and across diverse social, economic and political backgrounds to discuss several priorities identified in the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy adopted by the Government of Sierra Leone.

Speaking on women’s participation in political life, Deputy EU Ambassador ,Jamila El Assaidi, said that the discussions are very timely in the context of the revival of the Constitutional Review, adding that the Government of Sierra Leone has made commitments to introduce provisions in the Constitution to ensure that a minimum percentage of women can get elected and that all political players should rally around the right proposals that will allow effective increase of women’s representation in elected positions.

She added that the EU is very proud to collaborate with the 50/50 Group and Search for Common Ground on the “Empowering Women to be Effective Political Actors in Sierra Leone” project, a 36 month EU-funded initiative aimed at improving the capacity and confidence of women interested in pursuing a political career.

Since the start of the project, 225 women have demonstrated their intention to run for public office and 131 have registered with their political parties ahead of the next local council, parliamentary and presidential elections.

She noted that EU remains firmly committed to ensure that women and girls are free from violence, stereotypes, have opportunities to thrive and to lead.

Jamila said  the international theme this year to gather around International Women’s Day was #ChooseToChallenge expressing hope that discussions chosen will be geared towards challenging each other to transform word into action, intention into result, hope into reality.

Irish Ambassador, Lesley Ní Bhriain, said the COVID-19 context had greatly affected women and that it is critical to take steps without delay to advance gender equality and address structural inequalities. She underlined the importance of local organisations in the process.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nabeela Tunis, called the adoption of the GEWE policy a landmark for gender renaissance in Sierra Leone and its implementation an important opportunity to address injustices in the country, building on existing political will and social mobilisation.

Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Manty Tarawally underlined the importance of adequate funding and active involvement of all relevant Ministries for a quick implementation of the GEWE policy.

She noted that there has been some commitment and policies by Government in addressing issues of women in the country but said all these have been lip services saying without no implementation.

It was against such a backdrop that she called on Government to ensure that these policies are implemented which will address challenges faced by women across the country.

Delivering her statement, a representative of the 50/50 Group, Aisha Fofana Ibrahim, expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs for partnering with them to host such a seminal conference.

She noted that empowering women for political and other forms of leadership is what they do exceptionally well at 50/50 and as such they are excited and grateful that after  prolonged advocacy they now have a Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment policy saying they are expecting a related Act that will help to enhance women’s political participation and ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment at all levels.

Aisha Fofana Ibrahim furthered that, however, as they continue to encourage women to step up to leadership positions in this misogynistic society, they are disheartened and enraged by the reality that some women in leadership are intimidated, bullied and attacked just for doing their jobs which she described as unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

Giving her keynote address, Justice of Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, Hon. Justice Miatta Samba, congratulated the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs and partners for the first ever National Women’s Conference on the theme “Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Sierra Leone”.

She noted that the conference gives women the opportunity to meet as women in society in order to collectively put their ideas and resources together to ensure effective implementation of the gender equality and women’s empowerment policy launched by His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio in December last year.

She revealed that the establishment of the Women’s Economic and Development Fund for Women as anticipated in the GEWE policy is a laudable venture, adding that she is informed that the Ministry and partners are working on an affirmative action bill that will contribute to the empowerment of women.


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