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Sierra Rutile supports women’s empowerment by strengthening their livelihoods

Sierra Rutile supports women’s empowerment by strengthening their livelihoods

Mining firm, Sierra Rutile last week launched its new Livelihood Restoration Project, with a series of programmes aimed at helping women in the surrounding communities improve their standard of living through economic activities, and savings and micro-credit groups.

Speaking to an audience of stakeholders and potential beneficiaries at the launch event, Sierra Rutile’s CEO, John Bonoh Sisay said:  “Empowering women is one of the pillars of the Government’s ‘Agenda for Prosperity.’  We also know from our research that women can experience the consequences of mining projects in substantially different, and often more marked, ways than men.  Our programme of Livelihood Restoration is a practical and sustainable response to the needs and interests of women in our host communities which we anticipate will contribute to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in this region, and go some way towards fulfilling our responsibilities in the area of community development.”

Research into livelihoods in four of the neighbouring mining chiefdoms was funded by Sierra Rutile and carried out late last year.  It found that women in these areas outnumber men, that there is a high rate of illiteracy and marginalisation among them, and that they are often the sole providers for their children.

Recommendations emerging from the research suggested that women would benefit from economic activities with a quick turnaround, and savings and micro-credit groups with a business orientation.  Programmes, funded by Sierra Rutile,  which meet these recommendations are being piloted by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Sierra Leone, the Centre of Dialogue on Human Settlement and Poverty Alleviation (CODOHSAPA) and the Government Fisheries Department, with up to 750 women benefitting.

The YWCA, Sierra Leone, a faith-based organisation, has a strong presence in the area of Sierra Rutile’s operations, and a track record in women’s education and empowerment.  An entrepreneurship programme being offered by Sierra Rutile and the YWCA to women in Moriba Town and Mogbwemo, will train participants in bread baking and market gardening, as well as provide essential business skills.

A further training scheme, offered by the Fisheries Officer, Bonthe District on behalf of Sierra Rutile, will help 120 fish processors and fishmongers improve their fish processing techniques, as well as quality control and safety, leading to a better quality product which will command a better price at market.

CODOHSAPA, has already supported the setting up of 52 successful community savings groups across the country including one in Kangahun in Lower Banta.  It is bringing its expertise to a further six communities in the chiefdoms around Sierra Rutile.  Francis Reffell, CODOHSAPA’s Acting Executive Director, believes that the financial savings initiative has the potential to create sustainable change and development by helping “enlighten the communities and promoting a new sense of direction and determination within them, so that they will learn to initiate, contribute to and own their own development process, and also hold their local and state authorities accountable instead of just counting on or being overly dependent on Sierra Rutile. “

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