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As IPU ends two-day workshop on gender-based violence…

Hon. Emma Kowa urged male MPs to support campaign

By Samuel J. Kargbo

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), in collaboration with the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, ended a two-day workshop last Friday. The workshop, which had participants drawn from parliamentarians, civil society organisations, Family Support Unit, and Women’s organisations, was themed: “Gender-Based Violence Sensitization and Awareness Raising Campaign”.

Focal person for the IPU in the Sierra Leone Parliament, Hon. Emma Kowa, said at the closing ceremony that the workshop was to raise awareness among various target groups on gender-based violence in the country. She said they would continue the sensitization in other parts of the country by engaging more Members of Parliament, Councilors, Paramount Chiefs and other community stakeholders.

She reiterated that women should not be treated as slaves and they should have a voice in decision-making, and called on her colleagues, especially male MPs, to support the campaign to stop violence against women.

According to opposition lawmaker Hon. Paran Tarawallie, Sierra Leone is the only country that is yet to pass the Maputo protocol into an Act, adding that the Sierra Leone Constitution of 1991 deliberately discriminates against women, which is a contributing factor to violence against women.

The young lawmaker called on women to add their voice to the ongoing constitutional review process so as to positively influence the outcome, as they have the right to participate in every activity in the country.

Ruling party lawmaker, Hon. Hassan Sheriff, called on his colleagues to put their feet down so as to help minimise violence against women, noting that Sierra Leone is growing gradually and should also allow women to grow in the society by encouraging education, especially for girls. “If you educate one girl child, you have educated the nation. As MPs we are to work tirelessly to prevent violence against women,” he said.

IPU Programme Officer Brigitte Fillion urged lawmakers to work closely with the organisation in their outreach programme. She revealed the group also works with CSOs, journalists and women’s organization in the fight to curb violence against women in the country.

Senior Programme Officer at Raising Voice, Nancy Abwola, expressed hope that Members of Parliament will join them in sensitising their constituents on stopping violence against women, as well as to enact laws which accord women equally rights as men in all facets of society.