A National Consultative Conference for the development of Sierra Leone’s Action Plan on the United Nations Security Council Resolution (2000) and the Security Council Resolution 1325 (2001) started yesterday at the Miatta conference hall.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Eunice Njovana from the UN Country Team on Gender stated that the UNSCR 1325 was crucial as it dealt with issues of accountability and access to justice. She stated that it was imperative for the involvement of all stakeholders to ensure the protection of women in armed conflict and to consolidate efforts in planning and implementation. She therefore pledged support for the provision of financial support to Sierra Leone in that direction.
Mme Bineta Diop, Executive Director Femme Africa Solidarite praised the national action plan as deep rooted in the peace of Sierra Leone. She also lauded the effort of the women for putting great efforts and making great contributions to peace.
Mme Diop also said 1325 was important not only for the Manor River Union basin but for Africa as the resolution is geared towards bringing peace and women to the center of development. She mentioned the three pillars of 1325 to be participation of women, protection of them and promotion of their rights.
Speaking also at the conference, the Defense Minister Paolo Conteh stressed that 1325 was very relevant to the country given her tragic past where barbaric and inhumane treatments were meted out against women and children.
The Defense Minister explained how, during the war, combatants and armed elements used phrases like bush wives, moral booster and service support to inflict all forms of violations against women and children.
He said that as part of government’s commitment to protect women and girls from gender related violence, the family support unit has been established within the Police to respond to cases of domestic violence as well as a bill on sexual offences against women and the domestic violence Act.
In his welcome statement, the Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs Dr. Soccoh Kabia assured his Ministry’s determination to protect the women describing 1325 as a historic plan that defines the action that will protect women during and after conflict.
Giving the keynote address, the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Kadija Sumana said because of sexual and gender based violence on women, the UN was cognizant of the intrinsic roles of the women. She said women and Children cannot be empowered without education, health and peace building.
She called on the participants to look at the criminal prosecution of state sponsored sex offenders backed with the commitment of the State and the international community to protect women and girls, and urged them to look at the development of a gender sensitive, national gender based violence, the creation of a national law/policy and commitment in mainstreaming gender in the Country’s Security Sector reform programmes.
The objective of the national conference is to contribute towards the development of a National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 for effective implementation in Sierra Leone with consideration of its linkages to national, continental and global instruments.
It is also to strengthen the political will and national ownership by all stakeholders for the formulation of 1325 and to present a draft composite Regional Action Plan.
By Ishmael Bayoh