By PASCO TEMPLE :
Sierra Leone has opted to join the United States of America, Netherlands and Bangladesh, along – with ten other founding members of the Equal Futures Partnership- a United States Government initiative geared towards expanding women’s political and economic participation.
The initiative is designed to reaffirm and make real, respective obligations and commitments to promote and protect women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms as outlined in the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing platform for Action: and other international instruments and agreements on Women’s rights- including the recent UN Women by generating new actions that will be led by national governments.
In his speech to the United Nations general Assembly last year, President Barack Obama said “It is no secret that the world has yet to achieve the simple yet profound goal of ensuring equal futures for our daughters and our sons”.
He said “less than five percent of the world’s heads of state are women; and women make up just nineteen percent of representatives in parliaments worldwide. “Despite producing more than forty percent of the world’s food, women own less than one percent of the world’s farmland’. Said President Obama. He challenged heads of state to break down political and economic barriers to women’s equality”.
During a meeting on the Equal futures Partnership held at the White House Conference Center , Lincoln Room, on Thursday February 14th, 2013, representatives of some of the 13 founding members including Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Peru, Senegal, Tunisia, Kenya and the United States; as well as multilateral stakeholders including a representative of the World Bank and invited guests including Head of Chancery/ Counselor of the Sierra Leone Embassy Washington DC, Mrs. Isatu Sillah, deliberated on several topics including Expanded economic Opportunity for Women, strengthening policy, legal and regulatory frameworks to advance women’s participation in the formal economy, advancing women’s political participation in national, state and local – legislative and decision – making bodies: and addressing violence against women as a barrier to political and economic participation, developing new commitments with stakeholders outcomes of the partnership, joining the partnership, expanding women’s increased Political and Civic participation.
In her contribution, Mrs. Isatu Sillah commended the organizers of the meeting for such a venture and affirmed the commitment by the government of Sierra Leone in promoting gender parity.
She highlighted Sierra Leone government regulatory reforms: female genital mutilation, inheritance and property laws, the free primary school girl child education, customary marriage laws, domestic violence that resonates with CEDAW and the Third Millennium Development Goal.
The Counselor/HOC cited amongst others, that through the wisdom of His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, history has been made by the appointment of the first female Chief Justice, Female Ministers and deputy ministers of Government and others- like the National Revenue Authority, National Electoral Commission, Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority, Director General Foreign Affairs and Mayors, as well as 30% of female parliamentarians- all show – casing the inclusion and non- discriminatory practices towards women by the government in Sierra Leone.
This bold step she said is one of the reasons why Sierra Leone has been selected for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact.
Mrs. Sillah said her country is “exponentially developing and will be more than happy to join the new partnership in areas within the gender realm, where the government has not covered fully.
The White house representative Ms. Elisabeth Drew, Director for Human Rights and Gender ,National Security Staff was enthusiastic by Mrs. Sillah’s remarks and look forward to assisting the Sierra Leone Embassy in all areas of Gender Mainstreaming activities and encouraged Counselor/ Head of Chancery and the Government of Sierra Leone to partnership with the World Bank during the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC and in the margins of the UN General Assembly Meetings for a way forward on a total package on Gender Issues, which would foster the present gains by His Excellency the President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and his Government.
Embassy of Sierra Leone to the United States