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Friday, July 1, 2022

I am a feminist -David Sengeh says

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education, David M. Sengeh has emphasized that he is a feminist. He made the disclosure on Friday May 20 during the closing session of a three-day high-level delegation meeting on transforming leadership for gender in and through education held at the Freetown International Conference Centre, Aberdeen in Freetown.

 “I am a feminist, and part of the reason is because my responsibility is to all girls and I also have three children including my two biological daughters and my sister’s daughter who are girls. I live in a home where I always think about the survival and welfare of girls every day.When I think about my girls, I also think about the girls I meet in schools and I think about the future of all girls. I really want and wish and hope that all girls, where ever they are and whoever they are, whether they are my daughters or they kids who I meet on streets can at age 18 have all the skills, resources, qualification, knowledge that they may be able to reach their fullest potential in life,” Minister Sengeh stated

The meeting on transforming leadership for gender equality in and through education attracted over 20 active participants from 13 African countries and facilitators and organisers from about 20 countries from all over the world.

During the meetings a drafted manifesto was developed that entails four commitments. One of which is to providing teachers for girls in conflict areas, to ensure that all countries did their education sector plans by budgeting for education, particularly girl’s education and gender equity, commitments around data and information for out of school girls and children to capture the high level of girls drop-outs in Africa.

The Education Minister said Sierra Leone is the co-chair for the high-level steering committee to UNESCO and also the transforming education summit for the United Nations therefore, Sierra Leone will take leadership to present the manifesto to the UN on behalf of African Countries and hopefully it will become a commitment that the world makes for girls on how to get them to school, through school and how they transition into work life.

He said the manifesto that was developed out of the three days meeting by the 13 different countries with ministers, deputy ministers, permanent and secretaries from all the countries will be drafted further in various national dialogues because all countries around the world should be having national dialogue in education.

He concluded that Sierra Leone would present the drafted manifesto to other countries in the world during the transforming education Summit at the UN. He maintained that Sierra Leone is one of the first countries to the education plus initiative which is an initiative with UN aid, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO and UN Women on reducing HIV & AIDs among adolescent girls.

Director of UNGEI, Antara Ganguli said the purpose of the conference was to focus on gender equality education and that firstly for every child to be in school because around the world girls child are more likely to never go to school than boys.

She said education is a fantastic medium to achieve gender equality in society and in communities. “If we can teach children in schools on how to collaborate together and how to compete together as equal children hopefully they would grow up to be equal adults” she predicted .

Ganguli said 13 countries have over the past three days worked on a manifesto on gender equality through and in education which would be taken forward both nationally and globally. She maintained that nationally, each of the 13 countries would be doing consultations, finalised and further presented to the global transformation education summit in New York.

She said at global level, the manifesto gives a space to create more momentum and movement around gender equality in and through education.

Rosette Nanyanzi, Gender Technical Adviser for the Ministry of Education and Sport in Uganda who was representing the permanent secretary of education and sport ministry in Uganda said the meeting was very useful because a lot of countries have been finding it very difficult to push the gender agenda because of challenges with finances and political willingness.

She said in the meeting they were able to interact with ministers, permanent secretaries who the people holding the budget of education so that they can help in transforming education by focusing on issues that keep boys and girls out of school.

Nanyanzi said the Ugandan Ministry of Education already started the transforming education journey since 2013 where enabling structures were developed from national level to schools level. She said further recommendations will be implemented from the manifesto developed in the just concluded meeting.

“As a technical person, it’s going to be very easy for me to move in line with the manifesto to ensure that Ugandan girls and also African girls and boys are able to be educated. Despite the negative norms and traditions in our various countries, it is about time for us to stand tall and move the gender agenda by engaging the different powers that be to making sure that we address some of those social norms and practices in our communities.”

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