Supported by UNDP’s Global Project on the Role of Parliaments as Partners in Women, Peace and Security, members of the Parliament of Sierra Leone drafted and adopted a parliamentary resolution on calling on government and committing parliamentarians on issues emanating from the UNSCR 1325 & 1820 Women, Peace and Security (WPS) last Thursday, February 14, 2019. By adopting the resolution, Parliament has pledged to promote law reforms in support of gender equality, including amending a section of the 1991 Constitution which currently allows for discrimination against women in certain instances, bringing to the Table of the House, an Affirmative Action Bill, and fast-tracking the adoption of amendments to the Child Rights Act of 2007.
The resolution is a major step forward for women’s rights in Sierra Leone, a country which is currently dealing with widespread sexual and gender-based violence and which ranks high when it comes to gender-based discrimination in laws and institutions. The charge for bringing the resolution to a vote was led by the Female Parliamentary Caucus and its president Honorable Veronica K. Sesay but MPs, both male and female, from a number of key parliamentary committees participated debate around the resolution.
Sierra Leone is one of four pilot countries targeted by the UNDP project, which is supported by the Government of Norway and works with parliaments and parliamentarians to advance implementation of the WPS agenda (others are Jordan, Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka). The resolution is the product of over a year of consultations, dialogues and meetings supported by the project, including a two-day national workshop in Freetown on 12-13 July which was organized by UNDP and attended by 40 MPs and several key stakeholders.
The Resolution on WPS was laid on the Table and taken up for debate and adopted in the Parliament of Sierra Leone, within a week as per the Direction from the Speaker in the House. On the day it was adopted, the Speaker of the House- the Rt. Honorable Abass Bundu strategically allowed for the opinions of the male members to be heard leading to unanimous support for the resolution’s adoption. During the debate, very pertinent points regarding the subject of women, peace and security in Sierra Leone including, the amendment to the Chieftaincy Act, land and property rights, and the right to succession were raised.
At the end of the debate, the parliamentary resolution calling on government for action and committing parliamentarians on issues of concern falling under the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and 1820 on Women, Peace and Security was adopted with the Parliament committing to pass the affirmative action bill among others. This will have far reaching impact in terms of highlighting key issues in Sierra Leone on gender issues. This is one of the outcomes of the support provided to Parliaments through UNDP’s Enhanced Role of Parliaments and Parliamentarians (women and men) in advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda project.
This successful outcome preceded a series of events in 2018 which included a multi-stakeholder consultative workshop, follow-up meetings and deliberations of the way forward with the parliament leadership and the women Caucus. As a result, the outcome statement validated at the end of the workshop in July 2018 was redesigned into a Parliamentary Resolution. The Resolution was then validated by the women caucus, shared and agreed by the parliament leadership and laid on the Table on 7th of February 2019.
With additional support from Norway, the UNDP project has been expanded in 2019 to add additional countries and activities. UNDP is also publishing a Global Handbook on the Role of Parliaments as Partners in Women, Peace and Security.
News stories and resources:
Sierra Leone adopts UN Resolution on Women’s rights
S/Leone adopts U.N. resolution on women, galvanizing stance against sexual violence
Speech by UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support on The Role of Parliaments as Partners in Women, Peace and Security