‘Parliament will promote Women, Peace and Security agenda’

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…Speaker assures UNDP

July 17, 2018

By Jariatu S. Bangura

speaker
Speaker of Parliament Dr. Abass C. Bundu

The Speaker of Parliament has assured United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials that the Fifth Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone was committed to promoting Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda under the New Direction administration.

Dr. Abass Bundu, who doubles as Chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission, said during his keynote address at a two-day workshop for the Parliamentary Female Caucus that in order to ensure parliamentary ownership of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, he was willing to implement recommendations that would emerge from the workshop.

 “The women Members of Parliament, I am sure, will be participating in this process and may have suggestions which they would like to put forward during this current session of Parliament. In consonance with the New Direction, I am sure this Parliament is committed to be more efficient, effective and accountable in this regard,” he assured.

He stated that since his election as Speaker, the workshop was the first major event on gender and more particularly on women, peace and security agenda, noting that he has always considered himself as champion of gender issues as there was nothing more rewarding than to be called upon to participate as Speaker of Parliament.

Dr. Bundu maintained that the WPS agenda was adopted by the United Nations Security Council on 31st October 2000 through its famous Resolution 1325.

According to him, the Resolution has since received further reaffirmation in a plethora of Security Council Resolutions, including Resolutions 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122 and 2242.

Speaker Bundu stated that all of the resolutions call attention to the unique needs of women in conflict-affected areas and their involvement at national level to protect women and girls affected by conflict with the aim of ensuring their inclusion in peace-building processes.

“Although the central focus of resolution 1325 is on global commitments, it also makes it abundantly clear that action has to be taken at the national level if the terms of the Resolution are to be given full effect. Equally important, Resolution 1325 emphasises certain responsibilities of the member states of the United Nations,” he said.

He noted that the said resolution sought to put an end to impunity and prosecution of persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including those relating to sexual and other violence against women and girls, adding that member states of the United Nations are obliged to ensure that these crimes are excluded from any amnesty provisions.

“For us in Sierra Leone, the aftermath of our horrible internecine conflict, all of these interventions were particularly relevant. It is to our credit as a nation that after the signing of the Lome Peace Accord, we managed our affairs creditably, supported local women’s peace initiatives and conflict resolution processes and supported initiatives to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence,” he noted.
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Speaker Bundu said the new parliament would apply new gender lens while enacting bills into law and acknowledge more than ever before the basic principles of non-discrimination and gender equality.

He said: “We are ready and willing to be more open-minded and to provide the necessary space to accommodate and promote gender issues. Now that we have a women caucus from all political parties in this parliament, it shows their commitment and determination to promote women, peace and security.”

President of the Parliamentary Female Caucus, Hon. Veronica K. Sesay, said women are the best security in every facet of life, adding that the 17 Female MPs will champion women, peace and security issues.

She urged UNICEF, UNDP and 50/50 organisation to jointly fight the cause and contribute meaningfully to peace and security of women across the country.

UNDP Country Director, Samuel Doe, commended the government of Sierra Leone for being a signatory to Resolution 1325 and efforts aimed at national implementation.

Doe affirmed that commitment has been made, which according to him was demonstrated in the March 7th and 31st multitier elections. He made an allusion to the 2018 Peace index which placed the country to 4th position globally as the most peaceful country.

“It is a remarkable effort and it has opened many doors to investors and tourists that may want to invest in a country that is most peaceful after civil war. They will now come and invest without any fear in mind. We will continue to be peaceful in everything. The last election shows that the country was indeed ready to take peace and national cohesion forward,” he said.