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Sierra Leone
Friday, July 1, 2022

Calls to enact gender bill intensify

By Jariatu S. Bangura

Women in Sierra Leone who joined others across the world to  celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), intensified  calls for the Sierra Leone Parliament to speedily  enact the Gender Equality Bill which has been tabled in the House for months now.

Barely months more to go for the closure of the Fifth Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Members of Parliament  will  soon embark on political  campaigns for the upcoming 2023 elections and it is prudent that the bill be enacted now before parliament closes.

Delivering her keynote address during the celebration of the IWD by Women in the Media-Sierra Leone (WIMSAL), former president of the association, Tiana Alpha, said the world came together to celebrate the roles women played and continue to play in different phases.

She noted that despite barriers that have hugely limited the global women, governments after governments have been busy putting together legislations aimed at reducing those barriers and making women equal partners in the day-to-day running of the affairs of the state.

She said over the years, debate around equality had been intensified as women have been clamoring or proposing to equate themselves with men and that the said advocacy had been sustained year after year.

She stated that the road to inclusion and participation has not been an easy one, but noted that women will rise again and that the gender bill will guarantee a minimum thirty percent in all sectors and will be a giant step.

She said women need to aspire for leadership positions and that they must be selected by political parties as candidates, and they need to be elected by voters.

She noted that the need for an increase in financial support for women and that, if enacted, the gender bill will be a giant step in increasing women’s representation in all spheres.

Abubakarr Koroma Esq. said women are meek and gentle and that every finger is pointed at them whenever things go wrong in society.

“Prostitution is a necessity for the peace of this country. This is a way of breaking the bias, when it comes to gender, everything is biased against women, and they are more vulnerable than men. There are a lot more positives than you know. When it comes to HIV prevention, women with it do go for treatment than the men do. Be encouraged and be empowered.  It is not a burden, believe that by you being a woman, take it as an advantage unlike the men,” he said.

He encouraged women to keep believing in themselves and try to be more empowered in order to compete with men in society and also urged them to challenge themselves.

President of WIMSAL  in the Media Sierra Leone, Femi Coker, said the IWD was set aside for women to come together to reflect on the burning issues affecting them.

She noted that the biasness and intimidation faced by female journalists in most media houses by their male colleagues are numerous for reasons best known to them.

She said women still have a long way to go and that they must be able to speak up.

“Women should be their sister’s keeper and not contribute to the destruction of our fellow women but rather help them to stand up for their rights and achieve what they want. Knowing that bias exists, it’s not enough, action is needed. Today, I implore you all to break the bias image,” she said.

She said SLAJ has also charged media houses to develop and adopt progressive gender policies to enable women in the media express their potentials to aspire for leadership positions in the media landscape.

“The gender equality bill, if enacted and properly implemented, will be a giant step forward to address the numerous challenges faced by women such as gender based violence, under representation and barriers in undertaking leadership positions,” she said.

Hon. Katherine Zainab Tarawally said promoting women issues is key and it pains women to be born in an unequal world and not treated the same.

“Men who do not want women to shine should stand tall. Men who intimidate women should be ashamed of themselves. We are here to call out leaders, women that think we should not support ourselves. We want more because all the policies made so far by the government are yet to be fulfilled. The gender bill is yet to be enacted, even though the first reading has passed the shelves in the walls of Parliament. It is time to ask for our bill,” she said.

She noted that if women were really serious about breaking the bias and if they want to see that the bill is passed that will stand the test of time, then it’s high time they joined the campaign for the enactment of the bill.

“It’s almost March end and we don’t know if the bill will be passed into law since Parliament will soon close and we all will be going for our  campaigns . We barely have a few months for the closure of the House but it seems as if women are not ready to break the bias. Are we really serious in this celebration? Call on all women including 50/50 women groups and other women forums to join the campaign for the bill to shout out in order to foster development sustainably,” she said.

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