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President Koroma apologizes to Sierra Leonean women

President Koroma apologizes to Sierra Leonean women

Statement by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on international Women’s Day 27 March 2010.  Courtesies: The International Women’s Day is a day for reflecting on the challenges faced by women, and for celebrating the achievements of our mothers, our partners, our sisters, our daughters and our female compatriots. More importantly, this is a day for rededicating ourselves to the truth that a nation can only transform itself when it also lives up to the aspirations of women. From Madam Yoko to Nancy Steele and the current Chief Justice, the women of this country have aspired to equal rights, justice, education, health, food security and an opportunity to thrive as business women, farmers, politicians, and lawyers.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, the history of our country is replete with great examples of our collective efforts to fulfil the aspirations of women. From the founding of the Annie Walsh to the enthronement of Madam Yoko; from the election of the first female Mayor of a city in Africa in the 1930s to the appointment of the first female Chief Justice in the current administration, our country has asserted its better aspirations.

However, we have also as nation fallen short of our obligations to women. For decades women have had to battle it out with the constraints of culture to get justice and education; for decades women have been denied access to their just inheritance; and for a whole decade during the war we fell short in our obligation to adequately protect women from the brutalities of armed conflict. We will never as a nation move forward if we do not apologize to the women of this country for letting them down during the war; we will never as nation know better days if we do not ask for the forgiveness of our mothers, sisters, partners, and female compatriots for what we let them go through during the war. It is almost a decade now since the war ended, but we must apologise for the wrongs of the war.  As Head of State I apologise for the wrongs wrought on women, as Commander-in-Chief I ask for forgiveness for the armed forces, as Fountain of Honour and Justice I pledge this country’s commitment to honour, protect, defend and defend the rights and aspirations of the women of this country. As a Sierra Leonean man, I urge all men of this nation to stand by women to defeat these long-standing injustices suffered by more than half our population.

My government is committed to removing these injustices. Our User Free Healthcare Program that will be inaugurated in April 2010 is motivated by our desire to reverse the dismal maternal mortality figures; our education policies are premised on our commitment to give equal educational opportunities to boys and girls; we will adhere to women’s demands for a 30% quota in Parliament and other significant areas of governace; our judiciary is today headed by women and it is our belief that this singular fact will make the interpretation and implementation of justice reflective of the deep commitment of women to justice, equal rights and equal opportunities.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, we owe it to our country to make right the wrongs we have committed against women; we owe it to our humanity to ensure justice for the widow, education for the girl-child, and joy to the common woman everywhere in this country. There is no way we could bring glory to this nation without women. Ensuring the rights of women is one of the greatest ways of being patriotic.

God Bless Sierra Leone.

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