Sierra Leone Passes Gender Empowerment Act to Increase Number of Female MPs
14:14 16.11.2022 (Updated: 17:18 27.04.2023)
© AP Photo / Jason DeCrowPresident of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.
© AP Photo / Jason DeCrow
The act, which was the main promise of the African country's ruling president Julius Maada Wonie Bio's election campaign, is now awaiting a presidential signature to become law.
The Sierra Leone parliament has passed a long-awaited Gender Empowerment Act which establishes a minimum gender quota for female parliamentarians.
According to the new bill, women will now have to make up one-third of the West African country's parliament. They currently they hold less than a seventh of the seats.
When introducing the bill to parliament last week, Minister of Gender and Children's Affairs Madam Manty Tarawalli stated that gender inequality is a problem common to the whole world and assured that the president's agenda envisions the further empowerment of women in Sierra Leone.
“We want men and women to work together in making the society better,” said Deputy Chairperson of the Gender and Children Affairs Committee Rosy Kanu, who also sided with the draft.
Another deputy, Ibrahim Tawa Conteh, reminded that only 19 out of 146 Sierra Leone parliament members are currently women. He also supported the bill and praised the country’s president Julius Maada Wonie Bio for his contribution to the advancement of women's empowerment.
Supporters have been waiting for this bill to be passed for four years. Despite being a key promise in Bio's 2018 election campaign, it took three years for the bill’s development to be approved by the cabinet. As a result of discussion delays and technical hiccups, the draft was not passed in 2021 as expected, and the process dragged out until today.
Some legislators, however, consider the bill to be insufficient.
"It's unfair for women to be given 30 percent whilst they represent 52 percent of the population," Lahai Marah, a deputy of the All People's Congress (APC) opposition party pointed out.