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Equal Futures Partnership: From Promise to Progress

Equal Futures Partnership: From Promise to Progress

Sierra Leone’s Finance Minister Calls for More Practical Help for Women

Sierra Leone’s Finance and Economic Development Minister, Dr. Kaifala Marah has called on founding member States of  Equal Futures Partnership (United States, Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, and Tunisia as well as the European Union and the World Bank) to produce a portal that will consist of benchmarks, to enable countries know their levels of achievements through various assessments mechanisms.  (Photo: A view of the Round Table Confab while in session)

The Equal Future Partnerships is an initiative of President Barack Obama to increase support for the gender parity programs and to identify areas for support  yet  to  be  accomplished by member states.

Speaking on the topic “From Promise to Progress” on the 13th floor of the world bank building on Thursday April 18th, 2013 at the margins of the World Bank Spring Meeting, Dr. Marah  elaborated on the Equal Futures Partnership sub theme : “work and identifying priorities for action through consultations with civil society and other stakeholders. The  need  to  establishing coordinating bodies or steering committees to develop and oversee the implementation of Equal Futures commitments”.  Equal Futures countries including Sierra Leone will be able to report on progress within the Partnership, and to evaluate and strengthen commitments to promote maximum impact- through  the inclusion of a mechanism that will enable Countries and other players including the Civil Society assess themselves.

Minister Marah said it is a pleasure for the Government of Sierra Leone to participate in programs that relates to qualification for supports for the promotion of gender parity, civic education, and inspire girls to serve as leaders in our democracy. He expressed delight to engage in  programs which will not only result in additional help by capacitating women to participate in politics, but also to financially boost them to easily access loans from financial institutions that will see women start and expand trade and meaningfully contribute to social development. This he said will  fit into Sierra Leone’s new  Agenda  for Prosperity. He reaffirmed government commitments towards gender equity and legal reforms, and further highlighted key positions in government that are being held by women, which is a testament to the commitment.

In response to President Obama’s challenge to other heads of state to break down barriers to women’s political and economic participation, on September 24, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the Equal Futures Partnership on behalf of the United States along with 12 other founding members (Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, and Tunisia; as well as the European Union).

Each founding member made national commitments to policy, legal, and regulatory reforms to promote two mutually reinforcing goals: expanded economic opportunity for women and increased political and civic participation by women at local, state and national levels. Multilateral stakeholders including UN Women and the World Bank and leading businesses and non-profit institutions also pledged support for the partnership.

Equal Futures members have worked to identify priorities for action through consultations with civil society and other stakeholders and by establishing coordinating bodies or steering committees to develop and oversee the implementation of Equal Futures commitments. Six months after the launch of the Equal Futures Partnership, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim hosted the heads of delegations from the United States and 12 other founding members: Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, Tunisia, European Union, along with new members that included Sierra Leone  for a roundtable discussion about their efforts to expand economic opportunities and political participation for women and girls.

The World Bank Group is now working with Equal Futures partners to identify opportunities for collaboration to promote women’s rights in each country and to support the implementation of country commitments. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim joined U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Valerie Jarrett, and a host of others, for the event moderated by World Bank Group Managing Director Caroline Anstey.

Since September, several new members have joined the Partnership and begun developing commitments including: Belgium, Croatia, Latvia, Morocco, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Timor-Leste. Mexico and Italy have also delivered a letter of intent to join. All new members will share progress on their commitments by September 2013.

Hon. Minister of Finance Dr. Kaifalla Marah & Deputy Minister Mabinty Daramy at the Equal Futures Partnership Conference

Hon. Minister of Finance Dr. Kaifalla Marah & Deputy Minister Mabinty Daramy at the Equal Futures Partnership Conference

Sierra Leone  has  officially sent in a letter of intent  and  is committing to assessing and reforming laws, policies and regulations that restrict women’s participation in the formal economy, and in particular, will review and reform its land policy to ensure gender equality. In addition, Sierra Leone will focus on implementing its National Action Plan on gender-based violence, and implementing a 30% quota for women in governance at all levels.

Belgium will expand its parity laws to the entire federal electoral list by 2014, and will support efforts to ensure women’s participation on corporate boards as well as protect leave for caretakers and flexible work policies, and will monitor and evaluate its efforts on all these fronts.

Croatia has developed a national action plan for Equal Futures to promote women’s political participation, strengthen the social and economic position of rural women, advance female businesses and women in the labor market, and support international efforts to empower women.

New Zealand will launch a “commitment to action” through which private and public sector partners agree to increase gender diversity in leadership, and in 2013, will focus on effective pathways for female leadership talent within the workplace.

Earlier World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim opened the meeting and other speakers included U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States Valerie Jarrett, and a host of others earlier spoke. The round table meeting was  moderated by World Bank Group Managing Director Caroline Anstey. The Sierra Leone delegation to the round table included Madam Mabinty Daramy deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mrs.Isha Sillah Counsellor and Head of Chancery Sierra Leone Embassy, Washington DC.

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