SIERRA LEONE: Sierra Leone Launches National Action Plan and Hosts Open Day on Women, Peace and Security

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Western Africa
Sierra Leone
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security

The President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, will tomorrow Tuesday June 8th 2010 launch the ‘Sierra Leone National Action Plan (SiL NAP) on United Nation Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820.' This special event, is hosted by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender & Children's Affairs (MSWGCA) in collaboration with the United Nations, Cordaid, WANEP, WANMAR 1325 and Femme Africa Solidarite.

All groups women will converge at Victoria Park at 8A.M and mount a Float Parade march down to Maitta Conference Hall (at Youyi Building, Brookfields). The ceremony shall be chaired by Commissioner Jamesina King with speakers including Dr. Soccoh Kabia, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender & Children's Affairs; Maj. Rtd. Palo Conteh, Minister of Defense; and Mr. Michael Schulenburg, the United Nations ERSG.

What are Security Council Resolutions 1325 & 1820 about? The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on 31 October 2000. At the time it was a landmark Resolution as it was the first Security Council Resolution to properly address women and gender. The Resolution not only calls for general measures of gender mainstreaming and women's participation in all peace and security initiatives but also calls for specific action. Specific action includes increased representation of women in decision making in the prevention, management and resolution of conflict; the protection of women and girls against SGBV; and support for local women's peace initiatives. These actions are required from the Secretary General, member states and parties to armed conflict.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1820 was passed on 19 June 2008. This Resolution clearly states that sexual violence is a tactic of war and a serious security matter. Resolution 1820 complements resolution 1325 and strengthens the implementation component. The Resolution's content includes: recognition that preventing and responding to sexual violence as a tactic of war can be linked to the maintenance of international peace and security; calls for clearer and stronger guidelines to UN peacekeepers to prevent sexual violence against civilians; and asserts the importance of women's participation in all processes related to stopping sexual violence in conflict, including participation in peace talks.

In the last 9 months alone, the Security Council has adopted 2 additional resolutions on Women, Peace and Security:
1888 (2009) which strengthens tools for implementing 1820 through assigning leadership, building judicial response expertise, and reporting mechanisms, and

1889 (2009) which addresses women's exclusion from early recovery and peacebuilding and lack of adequate planning and funding for their needs. The Resolution also called for a set of indicators for global use to track the implementation of SCR 1325. The list of global indicators submitted in the Secretary General's Report to the Council in April 2010, were influenced by the draft indicators prioritized by the October 2009 Workshop co-hosted with the MSWGCA, UNIFEM and UNFPA.

Why are SCR 1325 & SCR 1820 important to Sierra Leone? For Sierra Leone as a post-conflict country both Resolutions are highly significant. The Resolutions offer guidance on how to ensure inclusion of women in the reconstruction of the country, the consideration of women's needs across sectors and ways of building a sustainable peace in Sierra Leone.

What is the SiL NAP? Sierra Leone is one of only 18 countries, of 192 globally that have adopted a National Action Plan on 1325. Internationally, there has been very little official monitoring of SCR 1325 by the UN bodies including the Security Council. Sierra Leone is one of two countries to develop a National Action Plan with a budget and concrete indicators to monitor implementation.
This Action Plan focuses on five different pillars and 18 priority areas- (1) Participation, (2) Prevention, (3) Prosecution, (4) Protection, and (5) Promotion.

Global Open Day for Women & Peace

To ensure that in the tenth year since SCR 1325 (2000), we are guided by women's priorities and perspectives in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, Special and Executive Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG & ERSGs) in 23 conflict-affected countries will open their doors to women peace leaders and peace activists.

In response to the call in SCR 1325 urging ‘consultation with local and international women's groups,' ERSG Mr Micheal Schelunburg will consult with the women of Sierra Leone at Maitta Conference Hall at noon on 8 June 2010.

Over 30 women, identified as representatives of Sierra Leonean women from all walks of life, participated in a preparatory meeting on Friday, 4 June to articulate key issues they would like to discuss with the ERSG. When asked, “what does peace and security mean to you?” Women made telling statements like “Over 52% of the population in Sierra Leone are women. If women don't have peace, there is no peace & security in Sierra Leone”; “Peace and security is justice and access to justice. It is economic empowerment”; and “Peace goes beyond the absence of physical conflict. It has to do with the respect for the dignity of a woman – as a person.”

These consultations provide a space for women's voices to be heard, for women's participation and for improved representation of women's concerns in conflict resolution, peace negotiation and peace building. Watch this space for the outcome of Sierra Leone's first Open Day for Women and Peace.

Finally, 2010 is the 10th anniversary of SCR 1325. One of the best anniversary gifts will be the strong implementation of SCR 1325 in a UN Member State. Sierra Leone can surely be that country.