VOX POP: What women say about the Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment Act  

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Yusufu S. Bangura

Last week, President Bio singed the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act, which provides for women to have 30% quota in elective and other public positions and for gender unit to be established within all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, extension of maternal leave from 12 weeks to 14weeks, among several other provisions.

However, prior to the enactment of the said law by parliament, it was said that several consultations were done across the country with inputs from various women groups.

In this Vox Pop, Concord Times’ Yusufu S. Bangura on Monday took to the streets of Freetown to gauge the views of businesswomen, working class women and students about their knowledge on the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act.

Sama Kamara, Businesswoman

As a woman I was not aware about this law and I only know that President Bio has signed the bill which is now a law for women to have 30% quota. Women are suffering so they need to empower us because we are the ones that put them in power.

If offices both private and public work according to the law, it would be good for us.Employers should not employ their relatives, but they should allow everyone to be part of governance for the betterment of this country.

Janet Tangar, Student

This is my first time to come across this word and I have never heard about it, but however, the signing of the bill is a good one for us, because it is not easy working in an institution as a woman, especially when a woman is pregnant and later gives birth. Some offices do not give more time for her to rest, so am happy that maternal leave has been extended to 14 weeks.   

I want the government to enforce this law because most times they make laws but there is no enforcement so I want private and public institutions to work with this law for us woman.

Eva During, Student

I am very happy for the law because women have a role to play in society, so if we now have 30% quota it will be very helpful. And in any society where there are women the economy would grow, as we carry greater responsibility. I was not aware about this bill before it turns to law, but am happy for it.

I will like the government to put the law into practice because they should not only sign it and ignore it, but they should know that women now have 30% quota and they must have the right to contribute in decision making, so that they bring development in that particular sector.

Isatu Bah, Local restaurant owner

I doesn’t know anything about the law, but I feel good that it has been a law and I also feel happy for my colleagues who are suffering in offices for their livelihood, because as for me I only depend on my business.

President Bio should not only sign the law but he should make sure institutions work towards it for the 30% quota to be effective.

Jariatu Kamara, Trader in toys

As a woman, I was not aware about this law, but I thank God because it is now a law as the advantage against women is  too much.

I want MDAs to work with President Bio for women to have access to finance to ensure women’s right.

Sallaymatu Conteh, Fruit merchant

I feel so good and proud to hear that President Bio has signed the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Law for women to play active role in both private and public offices. Before now, only men played active role, but now women too can play active role.

It is good for us women to have a lengthy maternal leave as it is not easy for a woman to give birth and go for work after 12 weeks. For example, if a woman gives birth to male child, she  needs more than six months for her to recover her strength and have good health.  

As before they were not thinking about us, but with the new law we can now be part of decision making. For instance, where there are 12 men, we can have 5 women among them as we do not have strength to fight but we have wisdom.

Fatmata Kunta, Shop owner

This is the first time to hear about this law but I have heard about the 50/50% for women.We feel good about the new law as most of us have been left out in decision making, but this law would help to empower us.

Government should put mechanisms in place to ensure the enforcement of the law and they should go out to know if the law is enforced.    

Mariama Jalloh, Customer care service officer at TNB flash Fx

Actually I have never heard about this law, it only yesterday I got little knowledge about it. Firstly, I want to thank President Bio for giving 30% quota to women especially for us working in the offices and as a woman am glad for the long maternal leave, which is not easy for us.

Am expecting our employers to understand our situation after giving birth as after birth we need time to rest and they should not only care about the work,but they should care for our health.

Nasratu Kargbo, Journalist at Politico Newspaper

As for me am aware about the law because am a parliamentary reporter, signing of the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Law is an improvement and we are happy for the 30%.

However, we were yearning for the reserve seat for women, but parliamentarians removed it, so it was a disappointing thing for us.

Aminata Samualla Sesay, Student at FBC

I have come across the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Law and I have attended several meetings during the campaign for the bill to be a law. I think making it law is a good initiative for us, but the government should make sure that offices enforce the law because if they did not enforce it, it would only be in their books which would not make any sense.

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