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Women’s Forum Sierra Leone presents position paper to CRC

Women’s Forum Sierra Leone presents position paper to CRC

The Women’s Forum Sierra Leone on 24th July 2014 presented its position paper to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) at an impressive ceremony held at the Miatta Conference Center, Youyi Building in Freetown. (Photo: President of the Women’s Forum, Mrs. Maude Regina Peacock)

Presenting the position paper to the Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee, Justice Edmond Cowan, the President of the Women’s Forum Sierra Leone, Mrs. Maude Regina Peacock, articulated that women want right to access to land, education, health and socio-economic empowerment as well as an end to discrimination in the work place.

She also called on Government to ratify instruments/conventions/treaties related to women, especially the Maputo Declaration, informing that Sierra Leone is the only country that has not rectified the Maputo Declaration reiterating that the position paper is to among others put an end to all forms of discrimination against women and that the Forum looks forward to a positive response from the CRC.

The Vice President of the Forum, Rosetta Sovula stated that the day is historic and prayed fervently for those who would take the final decision for the education, political and socio-economic development of Sierra Leone.

She continued that since President Ernest Koroma assumed office in 2007, he has continuously promised to give women the 30% quota in governance and the decision-making process.

Giving an overview of the Women’s Forum Sierra Leone, the Secretary, Gloria Hastings-Spaine enlightened that the CRC, made up of 80-members, was setup by Government to review the 1991 Constitution which she underscored is an opportunity for all Sierra Leoneans to participate.

She continued that the Women’s Forum Sierra Leone was formed in 1994 and that in 1996, the Forum put up a robust performance at the Bintumani Conference I for the country to return to democratic governance as well as campaigned for the 30% quota for women in governance and the decision-making process highlighting that women make up 52% of the population but that there are unfavorable provisions in the Constitution and cultural and traditional practices inhibiting their participation in state governance.

She continued that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report recommended that the clauses in the Constitution that discriminate against women be reviewed or expunged and gave as example the non-election of female Paramount Chiefs in some parts of the country.

Gloria Hastings-Spaine also appealed to Government to ratify and domesticate all international conventions/treaties on women to which Sierra Leone is a signatory reiterating that Sierra Leone is the only country that has not ratified the Maputo Declaration and asserted that although some actions have been taken “more still needs to be done.”

Dilating on the process/methodology for the production of the position paper, the former President of the Women’s Forum Sierra Leone, Mrs. Rosaline Macarthy underscored that the process was participatory and inclusive, research conducted and that the Forum worked with partners like UNFPA, Plan International, UN Women, Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and other partners and revealed that rural women want empowerment and greater voice in national issues.

According to Mrs. Rosaline Macarthy, Pillar 8 of Government’s Agenda for Prosperity is to address women’s issues and reiterated that the views of all women are represented in the position paper.

The Gender Advisor to the President, Nasu Fofanah informed that plans are underway for the President to have an open dialogue forum with the women of Sierra Leone to discuss their programs.

Receiving the document, the Chairman of CRC, Justice Edmond Cowan, assured that the position paper would be taken seriously because the aim of the CRC is to listen to the views of all Sierra Leoneans.

He underlined that the CRC does not decide on what should be included in the Constitution but only serves as the conduit through which the views of all stakeholders are channeled adding that the mandate of the Committee is to look at the 1991 Constitution and the Dr. Peter Tucker Constitution and disclosed that the CRC has setup Sub-Committees to look at the submissions of various stakeholders.

Justice Edmond Cowan also expressed the hope that the final report of the CRC would be satisfactory to the people of Sierra Leone clarifying that at the end of the day, Government would order the conduct of a referendum but assured that members of the CRC want to leave a legacy asserting that a lot of people have commended Dr. Peter Tucker for a job well done.

Women’s Forum Sierra Leone is the umbrella organization for all women’s organizations in the country.

The Forum commended all who graced the occasion.

Highlights of the event were the presentation of the position paper to the Chairman of the CRC and the singing of the Women’s Anthem.

Other dignitaries who attended the event were members of the Constitutional Review Committee, the Chairman of the Political Parties Registration Commission, the Chairman of the National Commission for Democracy, leaders of political parties, Members of Parliament, women’s groups, professional organizations and the media.

Kongbap Sumner

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