To Deliberate on Gender Empowerment Bill 2021… Sierra Leone Association of Women in Journalism Organizes Media Cocktail

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By Mary Kabay

The Sierra Leone Association of Women in Journalism on the 10th November, 2021 held a media cocktail, under the patronage of the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Madam Manty Tarawalli geared towards engaging media practitioners on how they can meaningfully contribute in championing the campaign for the enactment of the Gender Empowerment Bill 2021.

Eminent personalities including HE Claire Buckley – Irish Ambassador, Ambassador Manuel Muller- Head of EU Delegation in Sierra Leone, a representative of the British High Commissioner, Head of WFP representing the UN Resident Coordinator, Setcheme Mongbo UN Women Head of Office, World Bank Country Manager, Hon. Rebecca Yei Kamara representing the Female Parliamentary Caucus, Chairman Independent Media Commission, National Coordinator Independent Radio Network, the Chairman Guild of Editors, Executive Director Campaign for Good Governance, Head of Department Mass Communication -FBC, Managing Director  of  Sierra Leone News Agency and media representatives from various parts of  the country were in attendance.

Marian Tina Conteh, Secretary General of Women in the Media Sierra Leone said the journey to get 30% quota for women representation and above has not been easy.

She underscored that their resilience is paying off given the fact that there is a compelling need for women to be part of the development movement of the State as they continue to play important roles not only in taking care of house chores but do work in strategic offices in both the public and private sectors.

According to her, the existence of such a bill is of great joy to them as Women in the Media Sierra Leone furthering how they will do their best to popularize it and work with organizations like SLAWIJ, who are actively involved.

HE Claire Buckley, Ambassador of Ireland in her statement said there had been a lot to think about since the Bill was approved by Cabinet in July and a lot to take forward after its tabling and first reading in Parliament.

“This is where I turn the focus on you – the media is absolutely crucial in this process,” she stated adding that giving a voice and visibility to women and girls and key stakeholders on the Gender Empowerment Bill in the news media constitute valuable resources that can be converted into societal influence and legitimacy.

She informed the media that they are in a unique position to promote the rights of women through the passing of the Gender Empowerment Bill 2021, while also disseminating important information about human rights and, in particular, women’s rights that will empower the citizenry and push the Government to protect those rights through improved governance.

On her part, Yeama Sarah Thompson, Managing Director of  the Sierra Leone News Agency  said without fair and balanced reporting on women issues, the media will be unable to play that role stating that they are lobbying the male MPs to enact the Gender Empowerment Bill.

“We have designed a strategy through which this law should be enacted so we will have more women in leadership positions,” Hon. Rebecca Yei Kamara, representing the Female Parliamentary Caucus vividly stated.

She said they are proud of the achievements Sierra Leone has made thus far but said there is still much that needs to be done to achieve SDG 5 – for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

Country Director of WFP, Steve Nsubuga, on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator stated that they want to ensure that the Bill is enacted.

Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, George S. Khoryama, said empowering women is to empower the nation as a whole maintaining that news coverage, documentaries, commentaries and editorials on the empowerment of women must be based on critical awareness and understanding of the feelings and emotions of women in the struggle.

“We stand in solidarity with the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs and every partner that has been supporting this advocacy process,” Sètchèmè Mongbo, UN Women Head of Office  said adding that a lot of relevant platforms and channels would be open towards educating the citizens and garnering the requisite support for this Bill.

The Hon. Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Madam Manty Tarawalli said nothing should be done for women without women and that economic justice facilitates economic growth and inclusive growth requires more women in the workplace.

The media representatives’ willingly committed to offering airtime to promote the Gender Empowerment Bill 2021 at their media houses.


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