As issues on Gender Mainstreaming continue to attract policy makers and development partners, including human rights campaigners, government and interested stakeholders have renewed their pledge to promote the process to ensure a peaceful and cohesive nation.
In pursuance of government’s resolve to promote the process which seeks to integrate gender concerns into policies, plans and legislations to ensure gender equality, the Decentralisation Secretariat in the Ministry of Local Government has organized a three-day training programme for a cross section of Civil Society Organisations and relevant officials of four Local Councils . Organised in the Conference Hall of the Port Loko District Council, the training is aimed at enhancing the importance of Gender Mainstreaming and the Key Dimensions of Gender Perspectives in the activities of Component 1 and 2 of the Japanese Social Development Fund Project
In his Keynote Address, the Deputy Minister of Local Government, Philip Tetema Tondoneh, described Gender Mainstreaming as a key contemporary issue that does not only deal with women. He expressed government’s determination to address challenges facing the process. He proffered a number of justifications of the need for gender mainstreaming, including violation of women and other vulnerable groups rights to property, education and other forms of violations. The Deputy Minister referred to Gender Mainstreaming as a very vital aspect in the implementation of the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF) Project and urged development partners including Local Councils to integrate the process in their work plans.
Women and Children, he said, suffered the most during the Ebola epidemic, noting that the project will raise awareness, enhance social cohesion and promote peace in communities. “It is the intention of Framers of this project to alleviate the sufferings of Ebola Survivors”, he said. Mr. Tondoneh admonished the Decentralisation Secretariat and Local Councils to ensure they interlink all components of the project and organize programmes that would capture Ebola Survivors.
The Director of Decentralisation Secretariat, Alex Bonapha, said most of those who died during the Ebola epidemic were women who served in most cases as Care Givers of Ebola infected people, adding that the project will lay a solid foundation for the inclusion of Gender Mainstreaming in Local Councils Development Plans and activities.
The Capacity Building Manager of Decentralisation Secretariat, John Braimah during his presentation on Component 1 of the JSDF project: ‘Social Sensitisation and Local Councils Service Delivery –post Ebola context’, described the project as one that is very gender sensitive. On the status of the project he said, a number of activities have been undertaken such as memorial service, planting of trees and dedication of projects to Ebola victims. Mr. Braimah noted that the project which targets 50,000 direct beneficiaries should cater for 50% of Women as beneficiaries at the end of its implementation among other considerations. He disclosed plans to organize a National Forum for Ebola Survivors and families with the aim of sharing experiences and addressing their concerns.
The Gender Specialist, Decentralisation Secretariat, Margaret Kaitibie, underscored the importance of Gender Mainstreaming in the implementation of the Japanese Social Development Fund Project. Government, she explained, is committed to Gender Mainstreaming, noting that successive governments have translated these commitments to concrete actions although more needs to be done. Sierra Leone is a signatory to so many International, Regional and Sub-Regional Frameworks for the promotion of gender equality and the need for government and institutions to integrate Gender mainstreaming into their policies, plans, programmes and legislations, she added.
The Resident Minister, North-West Region, Haja Isata Kamara who chaired the programme, outlined several challenges facing women and children and emphasized the need to tap on their potentials.
Chairman of Port Loko District Council, Idrisa Bangura, thanked the organizers for the initiative and pledged their commitment to ensuring that the project is successfully implemented. A number of recommendations were proffered by participants including the need to prioritise issues affecting children, women and other vulnerable people. Protecting the rights of women, strong political will to address issues bordering on social welfare, review policies to make them achievable, empower women and review cultural practices that debar them from exercising their rights formed part of the recommendations.
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