In the 2014 United Nations Human Development Report (UNHDR) with the theme ‘Sustaining human progress: reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience’, a-women advocacy organization 50/50 has called on women in the country to speak with one voice in order to achieve their ultimate goal of gender equality.
As the UNHDR ranked Sierra Leone 139 out of 146 in its gender development index, the President of 50/50 Dr. Aisha Ibrahim said there is lot to be done, noting, “Our maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy rates are still showing high. There are still less than 15% of women in Parliament and decision making positions; women still dominate the formal informal markets when we talk about economics and that is where we as women are placed in this country,” she said.
She however maintained that as women, they cannot say that progress has not been made, but it is slow and painful. She said this can be accelerated if there is the political will and genuine support for women’s empowerment.
Ibrahim pointed out that for women to be active and be empowered, there should be commitments from both government and women themselves, citing the enactment of certain Bills for example the 30% Quota of women in parliament, councils and decision-making positions or the Gender Equality Bill which could have become and Act before the close of Parliament in 2012, if there was the political will and more importantly if women speak with one voice.
As the focus for the 2014 UNHDR is on reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing resilience, “we are always at risk of slippery into poverty but the risk are higher for women who are always at the bottom of the ladder in all aspect of life. The fact of the matter is that the prevailing social, economic and political inequalities we experience in Sierra Leone do influence the vulnerability faced by Sierra Leoneans and these are definitely high for women,” the 50/50 Group President stated.
As indicated in the UNHDR, Aisha Ibrahim maintained that for women to be able to reduce vulnerabilities, they should be exposed to quality education, quality health, improved social services and low level of unemployment in a secure manner in the midst of a-high level of security.
For women to achieve resilience, the 50/50 President said four elements are necessary and these include provision of public goods, social protection, employment and basic services.
The 2014 UNHDR looks at two concepts which are both interconnected and immensely important to secure human development progress. Since the first UNDP global report in 1990, most countries have registered significant human development progress.
This year’s report shows that overall global trends are positive and that progress is continuing. Yet lives are being lost and livelihoods and development undermined by natural or human induced disasters and crisis but these set back are not inevitable.
By Betty Milton
Wednesday July 30, 2014