Liberia and Sierra Leone feature among the 15 least gender-developed countries in the world

The problem is not just a lack of adequate policies and laws, but – as is so often the case – poor implementation and the gap between national priorities and local realities. In both Liberia and Sierra Leone, national government can learn from local initiatives that are showing good results.

In Liberia gender policy and an inheritance law have been adopted, and a Ministry of Gender and Women was established. These initiatives are geared towards providing free education for girls, and ensuring women have access to business opportunities and equal access to land.

In Sierra Leone, the new constitution is more inclusive and addresses issues of equality. In 2007 a gender act was passed. Progress to eliminate barriers to women’s empowerment include three main laws: the registration of customary marriage and divorce; devolution of estate; and the domestic violence act.

Both countries have also developed National Action Plans in line with their commitment to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for women to contribute to ensuring long-lasting peace. The plans are meant to provide a framework for empowering women that takes into account domestic needs and challenges. Liberia adopted its National Action Plan in 2009 and Sierra Leone in 2010.

But instead of changing the underlying political, economic and social structures that disempower women, these National Action Plans focus on dealing with sexual and gender based violence. This limits the extent to which real gender equality can be achieved.

Source: Institute For Security Studies

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