Sierra Leone’s Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs , Alhaji Moijueh Kai-Kai, yesterday addressed the 58th Session of the Commission On The Status of Women ( CSW ) at the United Nations in New York. The Session, which started on Monday March 10, 2014 will last until March 21 , and has as as its priority theme ”Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls ”.
Here is the Minister’s statement :
H.E. ALHAJI MOIJUE KAIKAI
Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs
of the Republic of Sierra Leone
58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
March 11 , 2014
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Permit me to extend our heartfelt congratulations to you as Chair of the 58th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women(CSW). On behalf of the Government and People of Sierra Leone, I want to assure you of our full cooperation during the deliberations of this very important session.
The People and Government of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma extend sincere felicitations to Member States at this 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and wish us fruitful outcomes.
It gives me great pleasure to deliver a statement on behalf of my Government on the theme – “Challenges and Achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”. My statement will give a brief account of my country’s progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women. I will however ensure that my presentation focuses especially on my government’s commitment to the implementation of the relevant MDGs for women and girls.
ALHAJI MOIJUEH KAI-KAI
Sierra Leone thus recognizes the need to tap into their full capabilities in overcoming these challenges through their wide-ranging involvement in the decision‐making process at the national, sub‐national and global level .
Madam Chair, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as you may be aware, Sierra Leone is a post conflict country that has graduated from a fragile state to a low income country.
The government recognizes that gender equality and women’s empowerment contribute significantly to national development and cohesion. Government is committed to ensure that gender considerations are embedded within all national development programmes. It hopes to improve Sierra Leone’s Gender Inequality index (0.643 in 2012), and consequently the Human Development Index (0.359 in 2012). You may wish to note that, there are eight(8) MDGs and all of them have a gender face which is the more reason gender mainstreaming has become a developmental issue rather than a welfare one. Sierra Leone made relatively significant progress in the attainment of the MDGs, though marred with challenges. I wish to state the following achievements made so far:
Sierra Leone has demonstrated some commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment issues by putting in place various gender equality measures, policy frameworks and institutions to address discrimination and women’s marginalization which was noted in its 2010 MDG Progress Report. Sierra Leone has developed Policies and Laws to promote the MDGs:
- Policy on Education free for all at primary level and girls at secondary level. Free tuition for women and girls pursuing sciences and mathematics.
- Free Health Care policy
- The Child right act
- The Domestic Violence Act,
- Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorced Act
- Devolution of Estate Act
- Sexual Offences Act
- The National Strategy on the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy
- The National Referral Protocol
- Ongoing consultation on the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy and Bill, including the Minimum 30% Quota
- Affirmative action on the appointment of women in key decision making position.
- Women are now key players in the national security apparatus at all levels as commitment in the implementation UN Resolution 1325 and 1820.
- The 2011 Sierra Leone Integrated Household Survey estimated that 52.9 percent of the population is poor compared to 66.4 percent in 2003. The severity of poverty is moderating, though it remains a concern. At the national level the severity of poverty declined to 6.7% in 2011 from 14.0% in 2003 on MDG I.
- MDG 2 – Universal Primary Education, the current state of female literacy rate among young women aged 15-24 years is 48 % (MICS 2010) as compared to 43.5% (MICS 2005). However the primary school net attendance rate has increased to 74% and children reaching last grade of primary increased to 92 %( MICS 2010).
- MDG 3 on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, the GoSL has made tremendous efforts in closing the gap. The government and its development partners are in the process of developing a Gender and Women’s Empowerment Policy and Gender Equality Bill; the Minimum 30% Quota Bill and reviewing the national constitution to address the shortfalls of Section 27(4d) of the 1991 Constitution – exempting discriminatory practices relating to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other personal matters.
- Every effort is being made for the twin issues of Child Mortality and Maternal Health in MDGs 4 and 5 to be likely met with scaled and sustained efforts. 857 out of 100,000 die annually from childbirth. Use of family planning has increased from 7 % to 16 % and child birth at health facilities has doubled with support from Development partners
- MDG 6 HIV is potentially achievable (GoSL, 2010). HIV prevalence rate among women is 1.7 percent compared to 1.2 percent for men and the rate among pregnant women attending ante-natal clinic is 3.2 percent.
Madam Chair, as you may be aware, access to sexual and reproductive health, including quality family planning is key to achieving the MDGs. Women who are able to decide about the number of children they want to have or are able to safely deliver with health trained professionals and have access to emergency obstetric care in case of pregnancy complications are the empowered lot who can participate and contribute to society and subsequently live a life out of poverty. Adolescents who can postpone family formation, stay in school, and protect themselves from HIV or any other STDs are more able to break the cycle of poverty.
As a Ministry we have partnered with UNFPA to undertake a community wellness programme through which women at the community level are trained as community advocates supporting the promotion of gender equality and the reduction of maternal mortality in Sierra Leone.
Gaps and Challenges
A major challenge in the implementation of the government’s gender equality agenda relates to the issue of funding, logistics and inadequate capacity and number of personnel to undertake programmes. For Sierra Leone to achieve the MDGs we to be supported based on the needs that would make sustainable change.
The Way Forward
The Government has developed and launched the Agenda for Prosperity (AfP) with Pillar Eight (8) designated on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment whilst mainstreaming gender in all the remaining Pillars. Pillar eight of the AfP has four main clusters including governance, violence against women, education and economic empowerment of women. One of the goals of the Agenda for prosperity is to empower women and girls through education, increasing participation in public institutions and Policy decision making, access to justice and economic opportunities. To this end, Government for a start is allocating Le 800 million for the establishment of a Women and Youth Empowerment Fund. In addition, all programmes implemented under each of the priority Pillars in the Agenda for Prosperity will be done through a gender and youth lens, as gender and youth issues have been mainstreamed. The 8th pillar of the A4P has identified flagship projects including the development of a comprehensive National Gender Policy and a legislation for the minimum 30% for women in governance at all levels including the establishment of a Women’s Commission.
The agreed conclusions must adequately reflect issues on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, human rights, young people and SRHR, eliminating harmful practices, including, early and forced marriage which must all be addressed in the context of assuring sustainable development.
Thank you all.