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UN gender specialist frowns at ‘highest’ gender based-violence

March 9, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

Gender Specialist at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Musu S. Bangura, has said that gender based-violence was at its highest in the country, as women and girls were being harassed and raped with impunity almost on a daily basis, adding that laws covering women in the country were not properly being implemented.

She said women have lagged behind in governance as only 13% of them serve as Members of Parliament.

“We found ourselves in a situation where our voices are hardly factored in the governance system. The women want to be represented in all spheres of life but that is not manifested even in the current draft. It is heart rendering to see the Constitutional Review Committee fail to include the 30% quota that women have been yearning for,” she said.

Madam Bangura noted that though the new draft constitution makes education and health ‘justiceable’, the average Sierra Leonean woman would not be able to take government to task if they fail to meet the commitment.

Meanwhlie, Gabriel Rugalema, Interim Resident Coordinator of UNDP, told journalists that International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates and honours women around the world for their contribution to social, political and economic development.

He said IWD has been observed since 1908 in Europe and the Americas in recognition of women’s courageous and solidarity all over the world to fight for their rights and for gender equality, thus noting that this year marks the 105th year of IWD.

The international theme for this year’s celebration was “Pledge for Parity”, which Mr. Rugalema said called for achieving gender parity in all spheres of lives, including education, political governance, employment, ownership and access to productive resources.

He noted that the government of Sierra Leone and other heads of state have answered the call and commitment to action to step up gender equality and empowerment of women in the various countries.

He said the theme for Sierra Leone was “Pledge for an Engendered Constitution”, which according to him was timely and relevant as the country reviews the 1991 constitution.

“Entrenching gender equality in the constitution gives the guarantee for achieving gender parity ambitions,” he told newsmen Monday, 7 March.

He concluded that the IWD celebration would climax at the Miatta conference hall where Sierra Leonean women would reflect on their progress, challenges and the way forward for achieving a constitution that is gender sensitive.

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