The President of Sierra Leone, H.E Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio, has urged men and boys to speak-up against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) against Women and Girls, and champion the course for the protection of women and girls rights.
President Bio made these statements at the Kambia District Council Hall on Sunday, 8th March 2020 during the International Women’s Day Celebration.
President Bio was giving out the keynote address and officially launching the “Male Involvement Strategy” – a strategy developed by the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs; a strategy that is aimed at men and boys being champions for the course against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The President highlighted that, the International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day set aside to celebrate the achievement of women worldwide and also reflect on the future of our girls.
“Violence against women and girls in every form is a violation of their Human Rights” he said.
“We’re obligated as a nation to include women in nation’s development for economic growth and enhanced possibilities. Community men and Boys must not wait for ministries and government functionaries to intervene before the right measures are taken in protecting the rights of women and girls”, he underscored.
According to statistics, 51% of the country’s population is made up of women and girls.
“Rapists are beasts and should not be tolerated in our societies and communities. Gender-Based Violence is a societal problem which must be treated with all seriousness in our societies” he continued.
“The time to act is now”, he said. He added that Gender-Based Violence is not just a physical approach but entails a whole lot more of emotional and psychological torture.
The president revealed that, due to the large scale of domestic, sexual and Gender-Based Violence everywhere, his government decided to establish the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs – a Ministry created to cater for Women and Girls alone.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “MEN AND BOYS ARE STANDING UP FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS RIGHTS”.
President Bio ended by admonishing men to be accountable for themselves, wives, children and community.
“The Male Involvement Strategy is a Transformative strategy. Men and Boys must consider themselves as agents of change”, he concluded.
Giving an overview of the Male Involvement Strategy, the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mrs Manty Tarawallie, said that, after the formation of the ministry and her appointment as minister less than four months ago, they set numerous priorities which among them is the first priority i.e. the Male Involvement Strategy.
“Due to a large range of research, men are more influential to others towards their involvement in Gender-Based Violence perpetration”, she revealed.
Mrs Tarawallie continued that, after the research, they were able to come up with this strategy which will enable men to become champions and advocates for Women and Girls Rights.
She also revealed that, with support from the office of the Vice President and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), a Free Call Center on Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) which will act as a response strategy will be launched.
Madam Manty further disclosed that, they will train fifty (50) Midwives who will be in GBV centers to check victims, and with the UNFPA’s support, the UN Women will buy a testing device that would ascertain the reality of alleged cases.
Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Female Parliamentary Caucus, Honourable Rebecca Yei Kamara, applauded the president and his government by extension the declaration of a state of Emergency on Rape and Sexual related violence’s in 2019.
She appealed to the president for the amendment of Sections 74 and 76 of the 1991 constitution.
She requested on behalf of Sierra Leonean women for the Affirmative Action Bill to pass into law and H.E Bio the chairman of the Bill.
Other speakers who spoke against GBV and reaffirmed their organisation’s commitment towards the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) ‘Male Involvement Strategy’ include, the chairman of the Kambia District Council, President of the Inter-Religious Council, Sierra Leone Police Representative, NGO representative, Director of Productive and Child Health, UN Resident Coordinator, Minister of Youths, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education and the Parliamentary Female Caucus Male Champion.