Ministry of Gender Says Gender Bill May Result in 44 Women and 88 Men in the Next Sierra Leone Parliament

The Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs has proposed for every three candidates, one of them should be a woman, noting that would give women 33% seats in the next Parliament equating to 44 women and 88 men excluding Paramount Chiefs.

The Ministry made these proposals in their Bulletin while giving update on the Gender Bill on Tuesday 24 May 2022.
The full Bulletin is posted below:

Preamble: This is an important communication on the current status of the Gender Bill. It is critical to note from the onset of this update that the development of the Gender Bill was not conceived arbitrarily, it is a ‘Manifesto Commitment’ from H.E, the President, Brig (Rtd.) Dr. Julius Maada Bio. The idea of an Affirmative Action Bill to narrow the disproportionate gender inequality in political representation and governance has been a long standing commitment within the SLPP. For those reasons, the determination to enact the Gender Act was integrated into the Medium Term National Development Plan 2019 2023. The Medium Term National Development Plan contains the development aspirations of Government during its term in office. Furthermore, in demonstration of his willingness and commitment to implement the Gender Act and other gender related matters, in 2019, HE the President created the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs and gave the Ministry the mandate to lead the development and enactment of the Gender Act.

Further Actions: 1) The Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs became operational in November 2019 under the leadership of Hon. Minister Manty Tarawalli.

2) The Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs developed the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) Policy and successfully launched the policy in November 2020. The policy speaks to 13 objectives across 10 sectors. It provides the roadmap for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Sierra Leone.

3) The Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs translated key elements of the policy into a Bill. The GEWE Bill 2021 was presented in Cabinet by the Hon. Minister and gained approval by Cabinet on Wednesday, 21st July 2021, thereafter the Bill was laid in Parliament on Thursday, 21st October 2021 by the Hon. Minister, Madam Manty Tarawalli.

4) Alongside the process of enacting the Gender Act, the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs in partnership with the UN Country Team in Sierra Leone commenced the herculean task of Gender Mainstreaming across Ministries, Departments and Agencies. This approach will eventually (when completed) ensure that every legislation, programme and sectoral policy integrates the gender dimension and makes provision for women as per the objectives and tenets of the GEWE policy. The process is still ongoing.

5) The Constitutional Review White Paper proposes a Proportional Representation (PR) Elections System among others. This gave rise to further recommendations to the Gender Bill. The Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs and its partners developed the recommendations and the Hon. Minister Manty Tarawalli presented the recommendations to Parliament. Among the recommendations is a proposal for allocating Parliamentary seats to women in a PR System. We propose that for every three candidates, one of them should be a woman. This would give women 33% seats in the next Parliament equating to 44 women and 88 men excluding Paramount Chiefs. In the case of local council elections, we propose that for every four candidates, one should be a female. The Ministry now awaits Parliament’s invitation to the next stage of the enactment process.

6) Due to ongoing work on Gender Mainstreaming by the Ministry, from fourth quarter 2021, all legislations emanating from Government, whether amendments or newly created Bills, have carried distinct provisions for women, and this includes the Public Elections Act 2012 which is currently under review in Parliament (and now published in the national gazette). The Gender considerations included in the proposed amendments of the Public Elections Act 2012 are as follows:

That the next election be done by district block system as provided for in Section 38(a) of the Constitution. A district block system simply means Proportional Representation which aligns with the recommendation of the Constitutional Review White Paper.

It also recommends for Parliamentary Elections, under Clause 59 subsection (2) that for every three candidates, one of them shall be a female. . Furthermore, it empowers the Returning Officer (RO) to reject the nomination of any candidate that does not comply with clause 59 subsection (2). The provision for reserved seats for women in Parliament of not less than 30% is also included.

7) “MOGCA under my leadership will continue to mainstream Gender across legislations, policies and programmes to enable the right levels of parity in every sector. Gender Mainstreaming is about ensuring that every sector recognizes its own responsibility towards the goal of equality and articulates its responsibility in their sectoral policies to. guide implementation. And of course the anchor for all policies are the respective sectoral legislations. Each law must allow for the gender provisions and demand that the responsible institutions implement them with penalties accorded for non-compliance. Only with these measures can we guarantee sustainable change. We still have a long way to go but I can proudly report, that these improvements have started to gain momentum as a direct result of our effective Gender Mainstreaming efforts. Eg: the Minest and Mineral’s Act 2021 has a whole section on Women and Children that includes safety. and equality measures, the Customary Land Rights Act 2021 distinctively integrates women’s right to access and to possess land and now the proposed amendments to The Public Elections Act 2012 contains critical measures to increase women’s political representation.

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This is Mainstreaming! This is how we influence sustainable change! Let me use this opportunity to firstly thank President Bio for his exemplary leadership and sustained commitment to uplifting the status of women in Sierra Leone. Many thanks also go to our many partners especially, the Speaker and Leadership of the House of Parliament, Women’s Forum, HeforShe Supporters, UN Women, the UN Country Team, SLAWIJ and the Irish Embassy” Madam Manty Tarawalli Hon. Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs. END

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