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‘Women at the Wheel’ project launched in Freetown

By Regina Pratt

It is no longer a secret that women are also doing jobs their male counterparts do, as was showcased last Friday at State House when Professor Monti Jones, who deputised President Ernest Bai Koroma, launched the Women at the Wheel project.

According to Professor Jones, Women at the Wheel project was perfectly aligned with Cluster Four of Pillar 8 of the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’, while welcoming Madam Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, president of Women of Africa Foundation and her delegation to Sierra Leone.

He said the private taxi service will also address critical needs in promoting national development, adding that it will reduce time for service users and also create a secured driving environment.

“The beneficiaries have been trained as professional taxi drivers, motor mechanics and also business women,” he said, adding that these are lifelong transferrable skills that would motivate the women to pursue financial security for themselves and their families.

Former Vice President of Spain, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, said women contribute the most in society and that in a democratic setting, and are the engine of progress in Africa.

She said democracy is essential to development, and without women, there would be no democracy, as they have the ability to take part in political and social life.

First Lady, Sia Nyama Koroma, said the event marked another milestone in the empowerment of women in Sierra Leone, noting that the project was timely.

She admonished the women drivers to ply with caution on the road, and congratulated them on their success.

Pioneer of the project, Anthony Zechariah Jalloh, who represented Diamond Child, one of the supporters of the project, said he had lived in Spain for over 25 years and decided to return home and help his Sierra Leonean brothers and sisters.

He said Diamond Child protects arts and culture and the dignity of the people of Sierra Leone. He thanked Madam de la Vega and expressed hope that the government would sustain the project.

Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma, said 40 women were trained as drivers, mechanics and administrators, stating that the Women at the Wheel project was implemented in Freetown in collaboration with Diamond Child.

He said the goal of the project was to provide beneficiaries with gainful employment in society, stressing that the project was designed to create empowerment for women, especially those in difficult areas.

Koroma said the project will train another set of 40 women, and that it would end in 2015, but that the service will not only continue but be expanded subsequently.