Sierra Leone commits to legal reforms, free education and health care to empower women and girls

New legislation in Sierra Leone aims to empower women and ensure gender equality, including through greater protections against domestic violence and sexual offences. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to the national Agenda for Prosperity. Knowing that education is key, Sierra Leone has emphasized providing free education for girls in primary and senior secondary schools, achieving gender parity at the primary level. It has established gender-sensitive curricula, while free tertiary education scholarships encourage girls to study the sciences. Towards the aim of universal reproductive health care, women who are pregnant, lactating mothers and children under five can access free services. Speaking at the Global Leaders’ Meeting on 27 September 2015, President Ernest Bai Koroma said: “I reaffirm Sierra Leone’s commitment to deepen and enhance the space for women’s participation in all spheres of society and governance.” His speech builds on the country’s previous commitment to fully implement the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol), including taking legal action against practices such as Bondo [Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting]. Sierra Leone further pledged to strengthen legislation on women’s and children’s rights, including the right to take part in political leadership and decision-making processes, and improve women’s reproductive health and rights. The Government is also establishing a Legal Aid Board to provide accessible, affordable, credible and sustainable legal aid services for all. [ Speech | Previous commitment ]