Sierra Leone’s parliament on Thursday, 14 February 2019, debated and unanimously adopted the United Nations Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
The UN Resolution, which was first adopted by the Security Council in 2000, seeks for equal rights for women and the protection of women, children and girls from all forms of gender based violence.
Thursday’s parliament approval was the result of efforts by a group of lawmakers headed by the President of the Parliamentary Female Caucus, Veronica K. Sesay, who was supported through an initiative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on “The Role of Parliaments as Partners in Women, Peace, and Security”.
Sponsored by the government of Norway, this UNDP project involving four pilot countries seeks to help them progress their nationally identified priorities geared towards supporting women, peace, and security. Sierra Leone is the only representative African country. The other countries are Jordan, Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka.
Resolution 1325 aims at calling attention to the unique needs of women in conflict-affected situations, through a variety of interventions seeking to protect them and to ensure their inclusion in peace building processes that affect them.
Also captured in the document is participation of women at all levels of decision-making, protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence, prevention of violence against women, and relief and recovery measures to address international crises through a gender lens.
The adoption of the instrument comes as Sierra Leone seeks to deal with an epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence. Last week the country’s President declared rape and sexual violence a national emergency.
Through this Resolution, MPs have committed to, among others, promote law reforms in support of gender equality and women’s peace and security, push for the amendment of a section of the 1991 Constitution which campaigners say allows for discrimination against women, fast track the adoption of amendments to the Child Rights Act of 2007 to make it consistent to the Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act of 2009, and to debate and enact a Bill on affirmative action for Parliament.