President Julius Maada Bio while addressing the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 21st September 2020, noted that his government will strongly focus on the empowerment of women and girls in the implementation of his medium-term National Development Plan.
He said the establishment of a standalone Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, development of a national gender equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy, supporting entrepreneurship and economic inclusion, implementing affirmative policies for women and girls in all sectors from education to agriculture, promoting women’s health and reducing maternal and child mortality were very key to his governance strategy.
The President added that strengthening sexual offences laws, and introducing ‘one stop centres’ for rape and sexual offences models’ courts were seriously considered.
As part of his commitment to the promotion of women and children, the president on Thursday 3rd December 2020, launched the country’s first Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy 2020, saying that Sierra Leone will be happy if women, who form a major of its population are happy.
“We are here this morning to set ourselves new challenges that will touch and transform the lives of 52% of our population. It will place them where they belong: at the centre of our nation’s development process with all due rights, access, opportunities, and resources. We are about to witness history. Together, we are making history”.
“This is a pivotal year for gender equality and women’s empowerment – It is 25 years since we adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; 20 years after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace, and Security); 10 years since the establishment of UN Women; and, 5 years since the world set itself a set of targets in the Sustainable Development Goals,” The President further noted.
President Bio further stated that following a declaration of a national emergency on rape, his government had also passed the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 2019 to make it tougher on the scourge of sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
He announced that he had created the Sexual Offences Model Court to fast-track judicial processes for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, SGBV, cases, the creation of the One-Stop Centres for SGBV in most parts of the country and also engaged citizens on the implementation of the Male Involvement Strategy for the Prevention of SGBV.
By Mohamed Massaquoi
Information Attache at Sierra Leone
Permanent Mission to the United Nations
In New York