SIERRA LEONE: Women Should Speak With One Voice - Steven Gaojia

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Western Africa
Sierra Leone
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, Steven Gaojia, has said that women need to be united and speak with one voice.

He made the statement at a one day sensitization meeting on the Gender Equality Bill with Members of Parliament and councillors organized by the Network for Female Ministers and Parliamentarians at the Lacs Villa Guest House on Friday.

Gaojia said women of this country are willing and able partners in development and his ministry is willing to provide technical, physical support towards the success of these women more so as the country now boasts of a leader who has shown his commitment for the advancement of women.

He added that this is not a continuation but an indication of commitment by women.

Giving an update on the process of the bill, Mrs. Barbara Bangura of Grassroots Empowerment for Self Reliance (GEMS) said Women Solidarity Support Group holds monthly dialogue on women issues adding that there are lots of desires for women's lives to be improved in Sierra Leone.

"The Technical Committee which comprises of 19 monitors from SLEEPAC and WSSG coordinated the enactment of the draft bills," she said adding that they had to lobby male MPs and the exclusion of paramount chiefs in the North was also a challenge.

"We are going to do a symbolic presentation of the draft bill to the President and also meet with executives of political parties," she said.

In their observations, Hon. Charles Kalawa thanked the organizers and informed them that the 30% quota would be allocated to women and would like the civil society organisation involved in the monitoring to be named.

Hon. Abdul Rahman Kamara said he is concerned with the religious area noting that with the chieftaincy in the North, the chiefs will not take it kindly.

Andrew W. Songa of C.Y & W.A, commended the women for their urge to see more women in politics and Brian Randall of NEWMAP congratulated NEWMAP for including the young people in the process.

The participants were divided into five groups and these are some of the concerns raised: one day meeting with the President, Parliament and the Resident ministers; identifying women aspirants; outreach sensitization; identifying hot spots for emerging issues of violence; and NEWMAP is not visible enough.

While the National Coordinator, Patricia Macauley gave the welcome address and former MP, Zainab Kamara chaired the meeting, the meeting was climaxed with a contribution by one of Sierra Leone's gospel female artist, Milicent Rhodes.