On June 14 2007, the gender bill was passed in to law. Regrettably, there were some clerical errors during the drawing up of the act after parliamentary approval, and as a result, the registration of customary marriages has not been established by the Government.
This was revealed at a four days forum for YWCA partners and the media on the implementation of Gender Acts where it was revealed that the roll out plans identified numerous objectives and tasks that need to be in place for the laws to be effective.
The roll out plan was designed to ensure meaningfulness of the acts by planning the inter agency efforts to bring about behavioral changes combined with strengthening of bodies charged with putting the new laws into action.
It was revealed at the training that nothing within the plan is concrete despite the suggestion made on the best ways to ensure the effectiveness of Gender Acts, very few examples exist of real steps taken to undertake the work envisaged within the roll out plan.
Although the plan is lengthy it lacks details in one key regard is taken that there are some technical difficulties with the registration of customary marriage and an amendment needs to be made.
It was also revealed by one of the training facilitators from Sierra Leone Court Monitoring Programme Tope Adeyemi that due to the high level of illiteracy and poverty in the country it will likely pose logistical problems to the registration of marriages.
The Ministry of Social welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs was mandated by the act to establish offices for the registration at district headquarter towns and at chiefdom level and that the short term goal will be to have a record of registration at national level.
The Act stipulates that in order to cover the administration cost of the registration of marriages there needs to be a fee which is suggested to be Le5,000 rising to Le10,000 if the registration is not completed within six months.
Social Welfare Division, Family Support Units, Social Workers and Probation officers need to ensure that all the relevant agencies are aware of their responsibilities under the act in order to achieve its objectives.