DECEMBER 1, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs is partnering with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN Women), OXFAM (with kind support from Irish Aid) and Statistics Sierra Leone to conduct a country-wide assessment of multi-sectoral impact on the gender dimensions caused by the Ebola virus disease. The exercise commenced on 26 November and ends on 3 December.
The ministry, in collaboration with Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL), will spearhead this activity which aims to bring out a clear situation of how the outbreak affects women, men, boys and girls specifically.
The assessment will provide a thorough understanding, as well as quantify and qualify the socio-cultural determinants and drivers of Ebola virus transmission. The assessment will also generate evidence that will support the basis for the development of gender responsive interventions, both during and after the outbreak, with a particular focus on access to women’s protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, food security and livelihoods.
Social Welfare Minister, Alhaji Moijueh Kaikai, explained that the exercise would help the ministry formulate informed gender-responsive policies that would better enable officials to address the dimensions of the Ebola spread, and further strengthen the technical expertise to coordinate activities of partners.
“Government will need the figures to initiate the institutionalization of sex and age disaggregated data collection processes in the research and planning work of various ministries, to track the effects of policies and programmes on women, men, girls and boys. The information will further help to implement pro-poor policies that will accelerate poverty reduction. This activity comes in at a time when the government is pressing on its ministries, department and agencies and development partners to make judicious use of data,” Mr. Kaikai said.
The Ebola spread in Sierra Leone has confirmed experiences in past emergencies that women and girls are more likely to be affected the most due to the various traditional roles they play in their families and society.
However, there has been a blanket response to the national Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, with no comprehensive or conclusive data to enable partners provide targeted and evidence-based support to victims.
At present, there is no systematic reporting on the situation of women, men, girls and boys. In view of this development, UN Women – through its UN Ebola Gender Mainstreaming Strategy – is advocating for the need to generate and utilise disaggregated figures, whilst OXFAM is lobbying for disaggregated data to inform operational and social mobilization interventions, especially in water, sanitation and hygiene under the Ebola response.