Freetown, July 7 (SLENA) - As part of its commemoration of 2015 as the African Union Year of Women, Women’s Forum Sierra Leone (WE-SL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) last week Saturday 4th July 2015 honoured four female Sierra Leonean achievers in the continent at an auspicious ceremony held at the YWCA OId Hall, Brookfields in Freetown.
The awardees were Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, 4th Vice President of the Pan African Parliament Female Parliamentary Caucus; Hon. Isata Kabia, Rapporteur, Education Committee, Culture, Tourism and Human Resource, Pan African Parliament Female Parliamentary Caucus; Mrs. Jamesina King, Member of the African Commission on African and People’s Rights Human Rights Commission and the fourth and youngest, Davephine Tholley, a civil engineer who recently graduated from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone and has won a scholarship to study in Ghana.
The former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and newly-appointed Ambassador to Senegal, Dr. Ebun Strasser-King, who chaired the event, said it was an honour and privilege to chair the program which indicates the contributions of women in Africa and on behalf of the President and Government of Sierra Leone, congratulated the achievers.
|Dr. Bernadette Lahai
She also emphasized that Government is committed to promote women, mainstream gender into development issues and policies and noted that the honorees are all accomplished women in their various professions, underscoring that without education, the awardees would not have attained their respective positions.
Dr. Ebun Strasser-King reiterated that education is the key and gateway to success, stressing that with education women would overcome most of the challenges they face in public offices, articulating that the African Union (AU) Parliament has declared 2015 the AU Year of Women due to the fact that they are partners in development.
|Hon. Isata Kabia
The former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation also revealed that the AU has examined what African women need including education and socio-economic wellbeing, respect for human rights and end to violence in addition to appointing them to key positions in the decision making process and appealed to women in such positions to initiate policies that would enhance the status of women.
The Chairperson further appealed to women holding positions in international organizations to help their less-fortunate colleagues with employment and underlined that such events would inspire young girls to emulate the honorees.
|Mrs. Jamesina King
Mrs. Maude Regina Peacock, President of the Women’s Forum Sierra Leone (WF-SL), gave a brief report on the recent African Union Summit in South Africa, stating that 2015 is the Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda and acclaimed the President for the opportunity to attend the Summit.
She also quoted President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as stating that more women were represented at the Summit and acclaimed President Ernest Koroma for the recent appointment of women into various offices including Haja Afsatu Kabba as High Commissioner to Nigeria and Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh as High Commissioner to Ghana.
Mrs. Maude Peacock continued that the African Agenda to capacitate women is deeply rooted in Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance and informed that the Pre-AU Summit discussed how the goals on women’s empowerment would be achieved, disclosing further that women do 60% of the work in Africa and that by 2025, the hoe mainly used by women to cultivate their farms would have become obsolete and taken to the museum to be replaced by high technology for women to meet the demands of the job market, increase production, and underscored the need for quality women’s education in science and technology.
She further informed that the Forum survives through the personal financial contributions from its dedicated executive members, partners and fund raising activities like sponsored walks and lunch on sale for which she called for institutional support from Government to empower the Forum, the national female umbrella organization.
According to Mrs. Maude Peacock, the Forum plans to award outstanding women from all works of life yearly.
The Minister of Social Welfare, Alhaji Moijeh Kaikai informed that the awardees have run the race well, that the day is special to recognize accomplished Sierra Leonean women and that we are celebrating Sierra Leone.
The Minister went on to appeal to women to “reposition themselves, assuring that his Ministry would always work with the WF-SL, as his next target is to take the 30% Draft Bill aimed at empowering women to Parliament for ratification.
Other dignitaries who made statements included the Head of the United Nations Women and the President of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).
Highlights of the event were the presentation of plaques to the four awardees by the Nigerian High Commissioner in Sierra Leone and the rendition of a poem.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
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