By: Juliana Vandy, Strategic Communications Unit, MIC
The Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Madam Manty Tarawally, has on Thursday, 4th March 2021, updated the press on their plans to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day.
Speaking at the weekly government press briefing in the conference room of the Ministry of Information and Communications,
she said that every year women around the world come together to celebrate the International Day of Women on March 8, during which they observe the progress, opportunities, and challenges women face in the political, ecomical, social and cultural spheres of life.
She furthered that in Sierra Leone, it is on this day women ask their male counterparts to join them reflect on the gains made and the challenges women continue to face so that they can collectively address them.
The global theme for this year’s celebration, she went on, is“Women in Leadership, achieving an equal future in a COVID 19 world”.
Madam Manty Tarawally noted that the theme is aligned with UN Women’s new multi- generational campaign – the “generation equality” as this marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and platform for action.
Giving a background to the celebration of International Women’s Day in Sierra Leone she explained that the country started celebrating this day in 1995, adding that in 2013 the Government of Sierra Leone officially declared March 8 a public holiday largely characterized by nationwide media sensitization and public advocacy events rotationally held at district and provincial headquarter towns.
She announced that this year’s national theme is “Wit Boku Uman Dem Nar Pawa Wi Go Dreb Corona En Bil Bak Betteh Salone” – meaning with many women in positions of authority we will eliminate Corona and rebuild Sierra Leone.
Madam Manty Tarawally said women are in the frontline of the fight against Corona as health workers, care givers, innovators, community organizers, while some are the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic.
She maintained that the crisis, among many other indicators, has highlighted both the centrality and contribution of women and the disproportionate burdens they carry.
In order to uphold the right of women during this pandemic, the Gender Minister said her ministry has assigned a Gender Adviser to NaCOVERC to ensure women and girls’ concerns are mainstreamed at all stages of the pandemic response.
She averred that Sierra Leonean women continue to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and networks to effectively contribute to the recovery efforts in the COVID 19 response.
“As a government, we value the contributions of women in society and a gender lens has given us the drive for more acceptance than ever before that women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table and make irreplaceable contributions to decisions, policies and laws that work better for all of us,” she stated.
This year’s celebration, according to her, will take a huge shift from the traditional method of celebration in Sierra Leone to an action oriented program. “Keeping the spirit of decentralization and in observance of COVID 19 and Ebola precautionary measures there will be no national gathering but district and regional activities have been organized.”
She however stated that government has taken robust measures including the introduction of the male involvement strategy to help combat the various existing abuses and even the emerging challenges women and girls face during this pandemic.
She explained that the male involvement strategy is an approach that uses men and boys as allies and gender advocates while also recognizing that they too can be victims.
The approach, she maintained, is being implemented across the country by their partners including FINE-SL, Youth Council Leaders amongst others, adding that government has also ensured the integration of comprehensive sexuality education into the formal basic education school curriculum at all levels.
She further explained that her ministry has established the 116 rape hot line that is free from any network, describing it as a life line for any person requiring support after being sexually assaulted with one stop centres established across six districts in the country where all services ranging from medical assessment and report, to legal services are free.
Minister Manty Tarawally said Sierra Leone continues to make steady progress in the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment with government under the leadership of His Excellency Dr. Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio continuing to empower women in the political front by appointing them to key decision making positions in governance, noting that though there is a shortfall in parliamentary representation which is only 12.3%, female cabinet ministers represent 18.5% which exceeds the target as per the Mid-term National Development Plan.