Women in Sierra Leone will today, Tuesday 8th March 2011, join their counterparts the world over to commemorate the International Women's Day.
Various women's groups in the country have lined up series of events including seminars, processions, radio and television programs, and social events to mark the all-important day.
In separate interviews with various women stakeholders in the country, it naturally came out clear that the women of Sierra Leone are well prepared to fight a common cause.
Gender parity and development were the key words used by the various women in Sierra Leone.
In a telephone interview on Monday 7th March 2011, Local Unit Commander (LUC) of the Eastern Police Division, Superintendent Gloria O.V Tarawally expressed delight over the initiative to set a whole day aside for women in the world.
“It is explicit that women face various forms of discrimination in all spheres for reasons that remain a mystery to even the people themselves who are discriminating against women,” Tarawally noted, adding that it has become a norm for men to look down on women in various walks of life.
While describing the aforementioned occurrence as unfortunate, LUC Tarawally iterated that some women can be better leaders than men.
She registered her appreciation for the all important occasion which opportune Sierra Leonean women to come together in their numbers on a day like this and speak with one voice.
“We will exploit this day as a God given opportunity to create public awareness that women are major partners in development,” she pointed out, while alerting that no country in the world will develop without the active participation of women.
Deputy Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL), Yasmin Jusu Sheriff, said the day serves as an opportunity for women to reflect on issues affecting them.
“We are using this day to take stock of our progress at both national and international levels,” she disclosed, while noting that women in Sierra Leone would be particularly focused on the progress made in achieving 30% quota of women in governance.
“It is sad to note that irrespective of the TRC recommendation of 30% for women, backed up by various consultations and demands, there has been no concrete progress in that light,” she disclosed, while describing the situation as disappointing.
She however, noted that the women remain enthusiastic to fight their cause. She blamed the occurrence on lack of a political will, but expressed hopes that the minimum 30% quota would be achieved before the 2012 elections.
“We have received a lot of assurances from the President and his ministers, but none of these assurances have come to past,” she pointed out.
She emphasized that the women will not succeed in realizing their dreams without the support of men, and used the forum as an opportunity to call on the men to support the women for national development.
According to her, the women have continued to record increasing voices on a yearly basis.
“The movement of women is now being championed by all women including the grassroot women and the elites,” she said, adding that: “We want women represented in all spheres of society”.
Head of Programs Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), Marcella Macauley told the Awareness Times that the day recognizes the valuable roles of women in the world, adding that it serves as a day for reflection of what has happened.
According to her, women suffered the most during the country's civil war, thus the must for their contribution to be recognized. She expressed disappointment that women are still not given certain provisions and incentives they deserve.
“Notwithstanding the fact that we now have three gender laws, it is evident that a lot more needs to be done in the direction of proper implementation of the said laws,” she noted.
CGG, she said, will use today's commemoration as an entry point to the reparation process in order to ensure that the dignity of women who were victimized during the war is restored.
International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.
International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Hundreds of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.
Organisations, governments and women's groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues. The global United Nation's theme for this year's commemoration is: “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women”.