March 6, 2017 By Jariatu S. Bangura
The United Nations women representative to Ethiopia has urged Sierra Leoneans to step up campaign and raise awareness against early child marriage.
Speaking in parliament last week, Madam Letty Chiwara said 1 out of any 10 Sierra Leonean women between the age of 15 to 49, experience sexual violence in their life and that over 40% of young women have their first baby at the age of 18 years or below.
She said 12 % of them get pregnant at age 15, which according to her, was not acceptable for a country that was fighting for women’s equality.
“We know that the country has encountered a lot of challenges in the past years but be rest assured that UN women is with you to ensure that we embrace gender equality. With this campaign, it will be an official movement for women’s empowerment and participation. We would move faster in national recovery. There is still a long way to go in order to realise the development agenda that is ahead of us. There are many challenges in Sierra Leone but through this campaign, we are asking all and sundry to take a personal responsibility to address and overcome some of these challenges,” she said.
She stated that girls giving birth to babies was an additional burden as they expect their parents to look after them, thus urging Sierra Leoneans to stop child marriage.
She called on everyone across the 14districts in the country to embrace the HeForShe campaign.
She noted that since the launch of HeForShe campaign in 2014, 1.3 billion signatories have endorsed it.
She said they were hoping that Sierra Leone will reach the targeted figure by 2030 and that the promotion, equality, and empowerment among women and girls across Africa will be achieved.
“We want all Sierra Leonean women, men and boys to rise up beyond awareness and participation of women in the country and Africa as a whole. I do hope that Sierra Leone will reach the world in getting the climate 50/50 by 2030 which is no longer a child dream but doable in achieving the solidarity and campaign commitment to gender equality,” she said, adding “Sierra Leone is now taking the course to join the other countries in promoting and accelerating women’s economic empowerment,” she said.
She said to advance women’s role in peace and security and their participation in leadership and elimination of Gender Based Violence, was a comprehensive approach that engages every segment of society.
She expressed optimism that the HeForShe campaign will work to promote gender equality and gender parity across Africa.
Madam Chiwara commended sierra Leoneans, who have already accepted to champion the course for change.
“When I checked the webpage of the HeForShe campaign, I realised that 57 sierra Leoneans have joined the campaign on the HeForShe website of which 45 were men and 12 were women,” she said.
She applauded the Sierra Leone Parliament for promoting the campaign.