March 6, 2015 By Ann Marie Dumbuya
Commissioner-General of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) will be the keynote speaker at an event organized by Salone Business Women’s Hub and Playhouse Foundation in celebration of International Women’s Day. The event takes place over the weekend in Kono.
International Women’s Day is marked on March 8th each year to celebrate women’s accomplishments and advocate for effective actions for the advancement and empowerment of women. In patriarchal societies like Sierra Leone, economic and social rights of women are impeded with roles, responsibilities and social status mostly ascribed based on one’s gender. For too long, women are thought to be incapable of holding high profile offices including political ones, thanks to entrenched cultural beliefs. Experience has however proved otherwise.
Despite numerous barriers to employment for women, many are making their presence felt in various industries and professions. A classical example is the National Revenue Authority (NRA) where the Commissioner-General, Madam Haja Kallah-Kamara, has led the institution through a period of consistent growth by spearheading a transformation process that has modernized NRA’s systems and processes for better service delivery and increased revenue collection.
Campaigning for women’s empowerment and representation in decision-making is a global trend. International Women’s Day promotes ‘self-empowerment’ with women expected to champion the struggle for their social, economic and political rights. By organizing an event that will provide the opportunity to network, share experiences and celebrate achievements, women are showing the desire to take control of situations that affect their lives and influence external actors such as government, development agencies or NGOs to promote women’s rights especially the right to equal representation in decision-making.
There is increased realization in Sierra Leone that since women are in the majority, their exclusion from decision-making roles will have negative consequences on economic growth and national development. Similarly, when women are excluded from gainful employment, they are not only being disadvantaged, but losing out on providing valuable contributions to national development. Nonetheless, if more women should penetrate the workforce and fulfill personal ambitions, education is the key. Even though women make up over 50% of the country’s population, they are less likely to be literate compared with men especially in the provinces. This limits opportunities for paid employment, career development and self fulfilment.
As part of her task as keynote speaker, Madam Haja Kallah-Kamara is expected to provide scholarships to exceptionally bright girls in Kono thereby encouraging the emergence of a new set of women leaders who would in turn touch and influence many more lives. Such a gesture is significant in sending a message that educational attainment for women and girls – which remains low – is vital if they are to enjoy equal rights and opportunities in society and reach their dreams. Despite gains, gender disparity is still a major problem particularly at higher levels of education.
The Playhouse Foundation is a charitable organization that was established in 2009 by Mr. Abu Deedee Koroma and Ms. Finda Koroma in memory of their parents, the late Abu Aiah Koroma Esq. and his wife, the late Danké Evelyn Koroma. The focus of the Foundation is on education, especially the use of information technology to support youth development and employment.
The Foundation has implemented several projects targeting schools in Kono based on public/private partnerships. One such project was the establishment of computer laboratories and introduction of internet and e-learning to secondary schools in Kono.