Sunday March 8, 2015
-The world observes International Women's
Day with a theme that calls on all those in authority to make the lot of
the woman easier. This year's theme "Make It Happen" is an urgent call
to all governments to treat women as equals in terms of opportunities
The world is today celebrating the lives of women while
calling on all those in authority to put words on paper into action and
give women their rightful place in all spheres of public endeavour.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive
Director of UN Women, for International Women’s Day 2015 has noted in
this year's message -
"Women want their leaders to renew the promises made
to them. They want leaders to recommit to the Beijing Declaration, to
the Platform for Action, and to accelerated and bolder implementation.
They want more of their leaders to be women.
And they want those women, together with men, to dare
to change the economic and political paradigms. Gender parity must be
reached before 2030, so that we avert the sluggish trajectory of
progress that condemns a child born today to wait 80 years before they
see an equal world.
Today, on International Women’s Day, we call on our
countries to “step it up” for gender equality, with substantive progress
by 2020. Our aim is to reach ‘Planet 50:50’ before 2030. The world needs
full equality in order for humanity to prosper. Empower women, empower
humanity. I am sure you can picture an equal world!"
She also touched on violence against women insisting
that - "Violence against women continues to blight lives in all
countries of the world. And no country has achieved gender equality.
Women need change and humanity needs change. This we can do together;
women and girls, men and boys, young and old, rich and poor."
Ban Ki-moon in his message for
today stated - "The world must come together in response to the targeting of women
and girls by violent extremists. From Nigeria and Somalia to Syria and
Iraq, the bodies of women have been transformed into battlegrounds for
warriors carrying out specific and systematic strategies, often on the
basis of ethnicity or religion.
Women have been attacked for trying to
exercise their right to education and basic services; they have been
raped and turned into sex slaves; they have been given as prizes to
fighters, or traded among extremist groups in trafficking networks.
Doctors, nurses and others have been assassinated for trying to operate
in their professional capacity. The women human rights defenders brave
enough to challenge such atrocities risk – and sometimes lose – their
lives for the cause.
We must take a clear global stance against this total assault on
women’s human rights. The international community needs to translate its
outrage into meaningful action, including humanitarian aid,
psycho-social services, support for livelihoods, and efforts to bring
perpetrators to justice. With women and girls often the first targets of
attack, their rights must be at the centre of our strategy to address
this staggering and growing challenge. Empowered women and girls are the
best hope for sustainable development following conflict.
They are the
best drivers of growth, the best hope for reconciliation, and the best
buffer against radicalization of youth and the repetition of cycles of
violence. Even in societies at peace, too many girls and women are still
targets of domestic abuse, female genital mutilation and other forms of
violence that traumatize individuals and damage whole societies.
Discrimination remains a thick barrier that must be shattered. We need
to expand opportunities in politics, business and beyond. We need to
change mind-sets, especially among men, and engage men in becoming
active change-agents themselves. And we must back up our resolve with
resources based on the sure understanding that investments in gender
equality generate economic progress, social and political inclusion and
other benefits that, in turn, foster stability and human dignity.
Today is a time to remember the fate of women (and
indeed girls) in Sierra Leone where rape and other forms of violence
against them appear to be encouraged by the law as victims are subjected
to all manner of tactics aimed at discouraging them from reporting while
protecting their abusers.
We have in the past highlighted the plight of women
and girls and how they are treated like wares to be used and abused as
thought fit by the oppressors and rapists passing off as government and
It is no secret that pupils and students at various
strata of education are forced to endure abuse and molestation at the
hands of the looters of state coffers just so they can pay their way
through school. Indeed as
we noted some time back -
"School-going girls are forced into a form of
sexual slavery as those with thieving hands in state
coffers use tax payers' resources to buy off worried and
concerned parents; college ladies are forced, because of
their economic prison situation to sell their bodies to
politicians and those with economic clout just so they
can live a life, which on the surface looks bright and
rosy, but which in reality is a mirage that hides the
shame and deep pain brought about by poverty.
scourge of rape continues unabated as does violence
against women, encouraged it would appear by all three
arms of governance, the Executive, the Legislature and
the Judiciary with the latter either unwilling or unable
to enforce sections of the law that should punish
The International Rescue Committee's unit
in Sierra Leone in one report talks about rape victims
reaching a mindset where instead of outing their
violators get blamed for the outrage committed against
them - "women and girls are regularly blamed for the
rapes they suffer and assailants are rarely
prosecuted...a dedicated team help
dozens of girls like Fulamatu every month at the
IRC’s three Rainbow Centres – facilities that provide
medical care, counselling, legal aid and educational
support for survivors of sexual violence...the vast majority of clients are
girls who have been sexually assaulted by men whom
they know — neighbours, relatives, even pastors.
this is Sierra Leone, peace time Sierra Leone - a
country that should have woken up from the nightmare of
the war in which
rape was used as a weapon of war.
highlights how poverty and the use of pressure on rape
victims help to shield perpetrators from justice -
times victims compromise [cases] by accepting money from
perpetrators and withdraw charges; this is largely due
to poverty...but the stigma attached to rape was also a
potent factor....women's tendency to abandon charges
against rapists was widespread and put all women in
We had in the past drawn
the attention of the authorities in Sierra Leone to the
unacceptable levels of violence against women but all
our cries appear to have fallen on deaf ears, the same
ears that refused to heed the massive looting of state
coffers as exposed in the Annual Reports of the Auditor
When the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party
(SLPP) headquarters were attacked by the security forces
and supporters of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC)
party led by one Ernest Bai Koroma and there were
allegations of rape by the women found in the building,
supporters of the government including the President's
Press Secretary at the time, one Sheka Tarawallie (Shekito)
derided the report of an investigating committee headed
by legal luminary Justice Bankole Thompson."
Today is also a day for all decent and justice-loving
Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone to remember one woman.
Musu Conteh who was shot and killed
by machine gun wielding state forces because she dared to lead a protest
against working conditions at Bumbuna. The government of the rat
announced a committee to investigate the troubles at the mines and up to
this day we have not heard a line from that committee.
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone did its
own independent investigation and came out with its findings and
recommendations that were submitted to the rat. No action has been taken
against the armed security forces implicated in the death of Musu Conteh
and other violations against the people of Bumbuna.
When news of the death of Musu Conteh got to Freetown
one of the rat's apologists, another rat from the putrid sewers of
corruption in his online outlet, the Torchlight wrote that the poor lady
was killed by an SLPP sniper!!!.
As Sierra Leone struggles to eradicate the Ebola Virus
Disease from our communities, we pay our respects and homage to all
those women in the front lines - those women who put their lives at risk
to comfort the affected and who in turn got the disease and passed away.
We salute the women health delivery workers - the
nurses and doctors who risked everything including their lives so that
others may live. We salute all our women health delivery workers praying
that the Good Lord will reward them.
We salute women all over the world and pray that the
oppressed and enslaved will be free and given equal rights one fine day.