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NOTICES & DOCUMENTS  

President Dr. Ernest Bai Koromaís Keynote Speech on the Official Launching Ceremony of the Womenís Empowerment Through Access to Energy Held at The Place, Tokeh Village, Western Rural District on 9th May 2013
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May 9, 2013, 17:00
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Salutation,

 

On behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, and in my own name, I welcome you all to Sierra Leone. We feel very honoured to be hosts of this seminal Mano River Union Conference on Energy and Gender. I am glad that we are focusing on Womenís empowerment through access to energy. Womenís Empowerment and Energy Access are two major national priorities for me and my Government. So, when in October 2012, my Special Adviser on Gender and Womení Affairs in consultation with the Minister of Energy briefed and advised that the Government takes the global leadership in hosting this very significant and historical conference, I immediately gave my approval.

 

Over the next three days, you will hear about successful case studies from the MRU and other ECOWAS countries. You will hear from our ĎBarefoot Women Solar Engineersí here in Sierra Leone who, through their Barefoot College have demonstrated a clear case for the positive benefits of energy access and womenís economic empowerment. Access to energy has created multiple economic opportunities for these women and their communities. I encourage you to visit the college during your stay.


HE President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, to ensure that womenís voices and priorities are not only heard, but also acted upon, my Government has made Gender Equality and Womenís Empowerment a priority pillar in the Agenda for Prosperity Ė our core national development programme during my second term. Under this pillar there is a specific cluster on Womenís Access to Energy especially new, renewable and efficient energy. We believe that access to efficient energy empowers women, ensures productivity, enhances family health and improves the quality of life of a people.

 

Our women in the MRU, I salute you. I salute you all because in the midst of challenges over generations, you have persevered, you have showed commitment, and you have continued to keep our families going in the best directions possible. During our civil wars in the Mano River Basin, you stood for peace; you dragged men unto the negotiating table; and commanded the nations to embrace democracy. Today you are again blazing a new trail. With great energy, you are deliberating on energy; with powerful voices, you are discussing empowerment; and you are again bringing to the table matters of domineering importance. Only an unwise man would dare not listen to the determined voices of women. I, as President of Sierra Leone will listen; and I will act on your recommendations. This is the wise course of action; it is the better way to go if we are to become truly modern nations.

 

We have heard from the Executive Director of the Environmental Agency. Today, we are cutting down old and young trees to provide cooking energy, heating, lighting, food preservation and many more for our basic needs. Womenís time burden in accessing energy is a hindrance to their health, education, financial and social wellbeing. Cutting of trees has negative environmental effects Ėclimate change, global warming, desertification and limited water resources.

 

We therefore need to collectively address this challenge. That is why I am truly looking forward to some of the interventions that women in the MRU will propose on this issue.

 

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as we continue to create an enabling environment for womenís energy needs, we should explore all avenues to accessing all forms of energy including clean and renewable energy.Energy education must be enhanced to ensure that wise choices could be made on the different energy alternatives available to women. Women should be involved in all aspect of the energy discourse to ensure proper integration of their perspectives.

 

This is why we look forward to this gathering with great expectations. Our Governments in the MRU are awaiting the outcome of this conference to ensure that desired and appropriate strategies are adopted to fulfil womenís longstanding aspirations for freedom from the burden of firewood, and from the hazards of too much smoke in their kitchens. The time has come to assert these aspirations. We must act now. Promoting womenís access should be prominent amongst this generationís contribution to the freedom and development of our nations.

 

Let me conclude by extending my profound thanks and appreciation to our development partners especially: African Development Bank, UNIDO, ECREEE, Global Environmental Facility, Africell and all those others who have contributed to the successful hosting of this conference. My special gratitude goes to the MRU Secretary-General and the Secretariat for the leadership in organizing this conference and for supporting the Government of Sierra Leone to be the proud host of the first womenís access to energy conference globally. I count on your continuous support and commitment on this very important programme.


Once more on behalf of my Government and people of Sierra Leone, I welcome you all and I wish you all very fruitful and constructive deliberations. God Bless the MRU.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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