Gender Equality in Sierra Leone

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Sierra_Leone
flag_Sierra_Leone.png
Flag of Sierra_Leone
Population (in Mil.) 5.98
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 3.79
Sex Ratio (m/f) 0.94
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 1
Fertility Rate 4.94
Estimated Earned Income (f/m)
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) 2.1
Women in Parliament (in %) 12.4
INDICES
Human Development Index 177/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index 66/86
Gender Inequality Index 177/186
Gender Equity Index 135/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index /128
Global Gender Gap Index /68
More information on variables

Social Institutions

Sierra Leone gained independence from Britain in 1961.[1] The country has 17 different ethnic groups, the two main religions are Islam and Christianity, and English remains the country’s official language.[2] Sierra Leone has significant natural resources, including diamonds, minerals, and unexploited off-shore oil wells, but as a result of the civil war that ravaged the country from 1991 to 2002, it remains one of the least-developed countries in the world.[3] The World Bank classifies Sierra Leone as a low-income country.[4] Both men and women suffered the consequences of the conflict, which was typified by extreme brutality towards the civilian population.[5] An estimated 2 million people became refugees or displaced persons, and as many as 20,000 people died.[6] Relative stability has now been established, and presidential elections were held in 2007 which were considered to be fair, although the long task of rebuilding the country’s economic and social infrastructure continues.[7]The UN peacekeeping force that was in place left in 2005, and the United Nations-mandated Special Court for Sierra Leone (which held its last session in October 2009) has made progress in achieving accountability for war crimes.[8] At present, despite some recent legislative changes which have increased women’s legal protection, women are subject to legal and social discrimination in day-to-day life.[9] Their rights and position are contingent for the most part on customary law and the ethnic group to which they belong. In addition, secret (bondo or sande) societies to which most girls and women belong, serve to uphold and reinforce harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage, as well as encouraging girls not to stray from stereotyped traditional gender roles.[10] Women and children were subjected to rape and other forms of sexual torture, abduction (with children forced to become soldiers) and sexual slavery during the war, and appear to have been its most affected victims.[11] The Constitution of Sierra Leone (1991, amended 2001)provides for equal rights for men and women at Article 27, but the principle of non-discrimination does not apply in all areas.[12] Sierra Leone ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1988, but has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol on violence against women.[13] The country has signed but not ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.[14] New legislation passed in 2007 outlawed domestic violence, forced marriage, and the right to inherit property, but discriminatory customary law is still followed.[15] The country’s human development index score is 0.317, ranking it at 158 (out of 169).[16] Sierra Leone’s gender inequality index score is 0.756.[17] Sierra Leone is not ranked on the Global Gender Gap Index.[18]

Discriminatory Family Code

Recent changes in legislation (in 2007) have improved the legal protection that women enjoy in regard to matters relating to marriage, divorce, and inheritance.[19] However, customary law remains influential, varying between different ethnic groups, but always premised on the idea that men are superior to women, and hence are also discriminatory.[20] Under the Matrimonial Act of 1960, marriages can be conducted under civil, religious, or customary law.[21] Under the law on Christian marriage, only a father’s authorisation is required when the person marrying is under 21 years of age, meaning that the mother has no right to intervene if she is against the marriage.[22] Under civil law, girls must be 18 to marry, and forced marriage is illegal.[23] The Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act of 2007 requires (for the first time) the registration of marriages performed under customary law, the consent of both parties, and that both parties be over the age of 18.[24] In 2004, data provided by the National Statistical Office of Sierra Leone indicated that 34.1% of girls aged 15-19 were married, divorced or widowed.[25] This is a decrease on the figure of 47.4% provided in the 2004 UN World Fertility Report, which drew on data from 1992.[26] DHS data from 2008 indicates that 22.2% of women aged 20-49 had been married by the time they were 15.[27] Early marriage is often linked to initiation into the bondo secret societies in adolescence, as parents are keen to marry their daughters off as soon as this has taken place.[28] During the civil conflict, girls and young women were forced into ‘marriages’ with rebels fighters, although in effect this amounted to sexual and domestic slavery.[29] Amnesty International reports that in October 2009, three leaders of the Revolutionary United Front were convicted of forced marriage as an inhumane act constituting a crime against humanity (along with other crimes), under the Special Court for Sierra Leone.[30] Polygamy is prohibited under Sierra Leone’s Penal Code and is punishable by eight years in prison, but it is authorised in customary marriages, where a man can take as many wives as he wishes.[31] According to the 2008 DHS, overall, 37% of married women were in polygynous relationships, and the practice is more common in rural than in urban areas.[32] 29.7% of married girls aged 15-19 reported that their husband had more than one wife.[33] There is no article in the Constitution of Sierra Leone stating which parent is the head of the family, but custom generally grants this position to men, and husbands have a legal duty to provide for their families.[34] In principle, parental authority is shared by both parents, but discriminatory customary practices result in fathers holding sole parental authority.[35] In cases where women initiate divorce, under customary law in some areas, women have to give back any dowry, as well as relinquish custody of their children.[36] It is also far more difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce under customary law than it is for a man.[37] According to the 2008 DHS, 22.4% of households are headed by women.[38] Sierra Leonean women who have children with a non-Sierra Leonean man are not able to pass Sierra Leonean citizenship on to their children.[39] Until 2007, women’s inheritance rights depend on their ethnic group and the relevant customary or religious law.[40] Some tribes granted women the right to inherit property, while others considered the wife to be a possession of the dead husband, and part of his inheritance.[41] Under Islamic (‘Mohammedan’) law, property was distributed by the deceased man’s son, brother, or another (male) administrator, meaning that women often lose out.[42] In addition, civil law relating to inheritance was also discriminatory, men receiving 100% of their wife’s estate on her death, while women only received 30% on their husband’s death.[43] The Chronic Poverty Research Centre reports that 12.65 % of widows inherited majority of assets after their spouses in 2008.[44] With the new Devolution of Estates Act (2007), men and women now have the same inheritance rights in the event of the death of a spouse or a parent, regardless of religious or ethnic identity.[45]In addition, it is now a criminal offence for a widow to be evicted from the home that she shared with her husband, although there are still certain types of property that cannot be passed to a widow (namely ‘family property’ and ‘community property’).[46] There is, however, widespread ignorance about civil legislation relating to inheritance, and as a result, it is rarely effectively enforced.[47]

Restricted Physical Integrity

In 2007 a new Domestic Violence Act was passed in Sierra Leone, making domestic violence a criminal offence.[48] But the physical integrity of women in Sierra Leone remains insufficiently protected.[49] At present, the police and other authorities rarely intervene in family disputes, which are considered to be a private matter to be resolved by the family or immediate community.[50]There are no reliable statistics available as to the numbers of women affected by domestic violence, but the Family Support Units (FSUs – set up in 2003 to handle cases of rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence[51]) reported that in 2009, they had dealt with 2,738 women seeking help as a result of domestic violence.[52] Sadly, domestic violence appears to be an accepted part of relationships: in the 2008 DHS, 64.6% of women questioned agreed with at least one ‘reason’ (from a list of five) that justified a husband beating his wife.[53] Rape is prohibited in Sierra Leone and is punishable by 14 years in prison, although the law does not specifically recognise spousal rape.[54] The US Department of State reports that rape is considered to be a ‘societal norm’ rather than a criminal act, and that in some areas, victims are encouraged to marry their rapists.[55] Since the establishment of Family Support Units, there has been a steady increase in the number of rapes reported, particularly those involving children.[56] Rape was used as a weapon during the civil war, often alongside other forms of sexual and physical violence, such as mutilation and forced abortion.[57] It is impossible to know how many women were affected.[58] Many remain traumatised by their ordeal, and are shunned by their families and communities, particularly if they gave birth as a result of being raped.[59] Sexual violence against children is considered to be a growing problem.[60] There is no specific law on female genital mutilation (FGM) under which a perpetrator can be charged, although police do sometimes intervene on charges of manslaughter, forced mutilation, or child abuse.[61]It is widely practised across all sectors of society. A statement released by the World Health Organisation in 2008 suggested that 94% of women have undergone the procedure, while data from the 2008 DHS indicates that 91.3% of women aged 15-59 had done so.[62] FGM is most commonly performed on girls aged 10-14, as undergoing FGM is part of the initiation and coming of age ceremonies for many of the secret societies that operate in Sierra Leone.[63] Failure to join one of these societies can lead to ostracism from society for the girl and her family.[64] This makes it very difficult for open discussion on the topic, or for parents to take the decision to abandon the practice, and there is resistance to attempts to eradicate it (see ‘Civil liberties’ section below).[65] Reflecting this, only 8.9% of women questioned in the 2008 DHS stated that they had not subjected any of their daughters to the procedure, and did not intend to do so, and 65.9% of women questioned felt the practice should continue.[66] NGOs have campaigned against the practice, but their only successes to date have been in discouraging the practice among women under 18.[67] As of 2007, the government was intending to begin a campaign with NGOs, highlighting the negative health impact of FGM.[68]

Legislation is in place against trafficking,[69] but trafficking is believed to take place within the country, and Sierra Leone is also a source, transit, and destination country for trafficking in persons.[70] Women and children are most commonly trafficked, for sexual exploitation and forced labour.[71] During and following the civil conflict, many girls and women were forced to engage in transactional sex, in order to secure humanitarian assistance.[72] Women have the right to use and access information about contraception.[73] Knowledge of contraception is high, with 74.4% of women in the 2008 DHS reporting that they knew of at least one method of contraception.[74] This may reflect the success of government campaigns to raise awareness and encourage family planning.[75] But in 2008, only 10.2% of women were regularly using contraception.[76] In rural areas in particular, provision is often inadequate, inaccessible, and expensive, reflected in the fact that only 5% of women in rural areas reported using contraception (compared to 16.2% in urban areas).[77] In addition, women’s access to reproductive and general health care may be restricted by lack of equality within couples: in the 2008 DHS, 46.7% of married women reported that their husbands made decisions about their wives’ health without consulting them.[78] The 2006 report to the CEDAW committee also mentions that it is male partners who usually take the decision as to whether or not the couple will use contraception,[79] limiting women’s rights to control their own bodies. Abortion is legal when the pregnant woman’s mental or physical health is in danger, or to save her life.[80]

Son Bias

Infant and under-five mortality rates are slightly higher for boys than girls, as are malnutrition rates.[81] There is very little discrepancy between vaccination levels for girls (40.7%) and boys (39%).[82] Sierra Leone’s education system was massively disrupted by the 10 year civil war, and is still being reconstructed. As a result, school enrolment and completion rates overall remain low. However, there is some discrepancy between girls’ and boys’ access to education: in the 2008 DHS, 33.8% of girls aged 15-19 reported that they had received no education at all, compared to 23.1% of boys.[83] This reflects social norms that attach little value to girls’ education, particularly in rural areas, as well as economic hardship (forcing parents to choose which children to send to school), and the prevalence of early marriage.[84] Given the figures above, son preference is apparent in access to education, but not in relation to early childhood care. The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.94.[85]

There is no evidence to suggest that Sierra Leone is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

Restricted Resources and Entitlements

Women in Sierra Leone have very few ownership rights. Women constitute the largest group of agricultural labourers, but they have never had full access to land, which is governed by customary rules.[86] For example, in the north and west of Sierra Leone, women can theoretically own plots of land, but in the south and east, they can access land only through their husbands or other male family members, which means they lose this access if the husband dies.[87] Only in the district surrounding the capital Freetown can women own property outright in their own names.[88] In addition, there are two main types of farmland ownership in Sierra Leone. Under the community system, land belongs to the community or government, and individuals wishing to use it must acquire permission from the local authority.[89] In most cases, women can be given the right to use land only if they obtain their husbands’ consent, and only ever on a temporary basis.[90] The customary system provides for private ownership, but the land belongs to the family and is most often administered by the male head of the household.[91] The government has established a land reform commission to guarantee equal access to land for men and women.[92] In terms of access to property other than land, under civil law, women have equal rights to ownership, before and during marriage.[93] Under customary marriage rules in some areas however, a married woman is not entitled to manage a couple’s property because she is considered to be one of her husband’s possessions.[94] In some areas, women are considered as perpetual minors and are not free to make decisions without their husbands’ agreement.[95] That said, in other areas, within a customary marriage, either spouse can acquire new property.[96] Legally, women have equal right to access bank loans and other forms of credit.[97] The fact that women are not entitled to own land restricts their access to bank loans, particularly in rural areas: financial institutions often require land as a guarantee.[98] The difficulties in accessing credit from banks means women in rural areas often have to rely on money-lenders, who charge very high interest.[99] Several micro-credit programmes run by NGOs and the governments target individual women or women’s groups, enabling them to acquire funds to start small enterprises.[100]

Restricted Civil Liberties

There are no reported legal restrictions on women’s freedom of movement in Sierra Leone. It is important to note, however, that women’s civil liberties were jeopardised severely during the war: large numbers of girls were kidnapped and forcibly held to serve as sexual slaves for the soldiers.[101] In addition, on a day-to-day basis, some women’s freedom of movement may be restricted: in the 2008 DHS, 37.4% of married women reported that they could only go and visit their friends and relatives if their husbands agreed.[102]

Freedom of speech is legally protected in Sierra Leone.[103] That said, freedom of the media is limited by strict libel laws, which are sometimes used to silence critical journalists (although many newspapers are still critical of the government).[104] Journalists who speak out about sensitive or contentious issues may face violence from which they do not receive protection from the state. Amnesty International reports that in 2009, four women journalists who had written about FGM were abducted, stripped and forced to walk naked through the town of Kenema by women supporters of the practice, who said that they were disrupting their tradition.[105] The police took no action against the alleged attackers.[106] 52.3% of women in the 2008 DHS reported that they did not have access to any form of media at all, compared to 34.8% of men, indicating that gender may be a factor in determining access to the media.[107] While the right to association and assembly is legally protected and authorities do not generally suppress demonstrations, police may be inactive in protecting demonstrators from violence during riots.[108] Confrontations between supporters of the ruling party and supporters of other political parties in 2009 resulted in violence, including claims of sexual assault and rape.[109] Women have the right to vote in Sierra Leone, and to stand for election.[110] As of 2009, two members of the 20-member cabinet were women, 16 women MPs (out of a total of 124 – 13.2%) and every local council has at least one female member.[111] Women also played a key role in peace negotiations that helped to bring about the end of the civil conflict.[112] But in practice, women face restrictions on their right to stand for office. In 2009, Amnesty International reports that a woman was barred from standing in chieftaincy elections because of her gender.[113] Elsewhere, women would-be candidates face hostility from men and other women to their participation in politics, as well as practical barriers such as low self confidence, lack of money, or illiteracy.[114] There are very active women’s rights NGOs in the country, campaigning on a wide range of issues including women’s human rights, health, and education, and providing services such as shelters and micro credit.[115]This has included the ‘50/50’ group, who have actively campaigned for more women to stand for elected office.[116]In rural areas, women’s cooperatives are active.[117] The Constitution outlaws gender discrimination in employment, although beyond that, there is no legislation in place to protect women from discrimination in the work place.[118] Women are entitled to unpaid maternity leave, although there is no available information as to how long this maternity leave lasts.[119] The US Department of State reports that it is common for women who become pregnant in their first year of employment to lose their jobs.[120]The World Bank considers that 66% of women are economically active, but as the bulk of these women work in the informal sector, they are not protected by employment legislation.[121]

Same-sex relationships are legal for women but not for men, where they can result in up to 10 years imprisonment.[122]

References

  1. BBC (n.d.) ‘On this day, 1950 – 2005: 27 April. 1961: Sierra Leone wins independence’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/27/newsid_2502000/2502411.stm (accessed 20 November 2010)
  2. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.10; Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (2010) World Factbook: Sierra Leone, online edition, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sl.html (accessed 20 November 2010)
  3. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010) p.11; Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (2010) World Factbook: Sierra Leone, online edition, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sl.html (accessed 20 November 2010)
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  7. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.2; US Department of State (2010) ‘2009 Country Reports on Human Rights: Sierra Leone’, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135975.htm (accessed 20 November 2010)
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  10. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010) p.31
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  12. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.23; Constitution of Sierra Leone (1991 [2001])
  13. United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC) (n.d): Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, countries ratified. http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8&chapter=4&lang=en (accessed 20 October 2010) ; Africa for Women’s Rights (2009) Map / Carte ratifications http://www.africa4womensrights.org/post/2009/01/23/Carte-des-ratifications
  14. African Union (2010) ‘List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa’ (as of 27 August 2010). http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/Protocol%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Women.pdf (accessed 15 October 2010).
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  17. UNDP (2010) Human Development Report 2010: Sierra Leone, online edition, http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/SLE.html (accessed 20 November 2010)
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  20. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), pp.17, 26
  21. ommittee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010) pp.17, 78
  22. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.33
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  24. The Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act (2007 [2009]), Act No. 24 of 2007. http://www.sierra-leone.org/Laws/2009-01.pdf (accessed 6 December 2010)
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  26. United Nations (2004), World Fertility Report 2003, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, New York, NY, p.305
  27. Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) and ICF Macro (2009) Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey 2008,Calverton, Maryland, USA: Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) and ICF Macro. http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR225/FR225.pdf (accessed 20 November 2010), p.86
  28. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.33
  29. Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2003), ‘”We Kill You if You Cry”, Sexual Violences in the Sierra Leone Conflict’, Human Rights Watch Report, HRW, New York, , pp. 42-45
  30. Amnesty International (2010) Amnesty International Report 2009, State of the World’s Human Rights, London: Amnesty International. http://thereport.amnesty.org/sites/default/files/AIR2010_EN.pdf (accessed 8 November 2010), p.285
  31. CEDAW (2007), Responses to the List of Issues And Questions with Regard to the Consideration of the Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports: Sierra Leone, CEDAW/C/SLE/Q/5/Add. 1, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.17
  32. Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) and ICF Macro (2009) Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey 2008,Calverton, Maryland, USA: Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) and ICF Macro. http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR225/FR225.pdf (accessed 20 November 2010), p.84
  33. Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) and ICF Macro (2009) Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey 2008,Calverton, Maryland, USA: Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) and ICF Macro. http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/FR225/FR225.pdf (accessed 20 November 2010), p.85
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  108. US Department of State (2010) ‘2009 Country Reports on Human Rights: Sierra Leone’, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135975.htm (accessed 20 November 2010)
  109. Amnesty International (2010) Amnesty International Report 2009, State of the World’s Human Rights, London: Amnesty International. http://thereport.amnesty.org/sites/default/files/AIR2010_EN.pdf (accessed 8 November 2010), p.284
  110. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.40
  111. US Department of State (2010) ‘2009 Country Reports on Human Rights: Sierra Leone’, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135975.htm (accessed 20 November 2010); Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.) ‘SIERRA LEONE: Parliament’, http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2281_A.htm (accessed 20 November 2010).
  112. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.16
  113. Amnesty International (2010) Amnesty International Report 2009, State of the World’s Human Rights, London: Amnesty International. http://thereport.amnesty.org/sites/default/files/AIR2010_EN.pdf (accessed 8 November 2010), p.285. See also Freedom House (2010) Freedom in the World Country Reports: Sierra Leone, online edition, http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2010&country=7914 (accessed 20 November 2010)
  114. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.40; Hoare, Joanna (2009) ‘Breaking the barriers: Sierra Leonean women on the march’, J.Hoare and F. Gell (eds.) Women’s Leadership and Participation: case studies on learning for action, Practical Action/ Oxfam GB, Rugby , p.54
  115. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.45; US Department of State (2010) ‘2009 Country Reports on Human Rights: Sierra Leone’, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135975.htm (accessed 20 November 2010)
  116. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), pp.16-17, 45; Hoare, Joanna (2009) ‘Breaking the barriers: Sierra Leonean women on the march’, J.Hoare and F. Gell (eds.) Women’s Leadership and Participation: case studies on learning for action, Practical Action/ Oxfam GB, Rugby ; CEDAW (2007), Responses to the List of Issues And Questions with Regard to the Consideration of the Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports: Sierra Leone, CEDAW/C/SLE/Q/5/Add. 1, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.10
  117. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.76
  118. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.59
  119. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p.61
  120. US Department of State (2010) ‘2009 Country Reports on Human Rights: Sierra Leone’, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135975.htm (accessed 20 November 2010)
  121. World Bank (n.d.) Data: Labor participation rate, female (% of female population ages 15+), http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.FE.ZS (accessed 20 November 2010); Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2006), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Sierra Leone, Combined Initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/SLE/1-5, CEDAW, New York, NY. Downloaded from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws38.htm (accessed 20 November 2010), p. 59-60
  122. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), (n.d.), country profile: Sierra Leone, http://ilga.org/ilga/en/countries/SIERRA%20LEONE/Law (accessed 17 November 2010)

The Africa for Women's Rights Campaign

Africa4womensrights.png

Key facts

  • CEDAW: ratified in 1998
  • CEDAW Protocol: signed in 2000
  • Maputo Protocol: signed in 2003

The Campaign

On 8 March 2009 the "Africa for Women's Rights" Campaign was launched at the initiative of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in collaboration with fove non-governmental regional organisations: the African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies(ACDHRS), Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA). These organisations make up the Steering Committee responsible for the coordination of the Campaign.

The Campaign aims to put an end to discrimination and violence against women in Africa, calling on states to ratify international and regional instruments protecting women's rights, to repeal all discriminatory laws, to adopt laws protecting the rights of women and to take all necessary measures to wensure their effective implementation.

Country Focus: Sierra Leone

While Sierra Leone has ratified the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) without reservations, it has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).

The Coalition of the Campaign remains particularly concerned by the following violations of women’s rights in Sierra Leone: the persistence of discriminatory laws; violence against women; unequal status in marriage, family, and inheritance; unequal access to education, employment, decision-making, and property; and lack of access to health services. Read more

Sources

  • Focal Point: FAWE
  • Recommendations of the CEDAW Committee, June 2007
  • CEDAW NGO Coalition Shadow Report to the CEDAW Committee, May 2007

External Links

Case Studies

Progress Assessment of MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

Millennium Development Goal #3 is divided into three sub-categories, each of them focusing on different areas: education, employment wage and political power.

MDG Tracking Index of Sierra Leone-2010

Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education

Female gross enrolment at primary level rose from 68% in 1990 to 107% in 2004[1]. The combined ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education was at 0.84 in 2008[2]. In 2004, it was at 1.01 in primary schooling and 0.78 for the secondary level. Thd massive increase in the attendance of girls in Sierra Leone-which was a war-torn country 10 years ago- is a result of the affirmative action of the government to allow every girl child to go to school. Primary education school fees for all children were abolished in 2001 and in 2003, full support was provided for all girls entering the Junior Secondary School in the Eastern and Northern Regions because these regions were recording low numbers in attendance[3].

Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector

The share of women in the non-agricultural employment sector is still low despite the fact that significant progress is being made to improve the situation."In 2001, the proportion of women in non-agricultural employment was 7.5 percent (MDG Report, 2005). There was significant increase to 23.2 percent in 2005 (World Bank, 2009)" [4]. Traditional barrier and customs remains still an obstacle to the economic empowerment of Sierra-Leonese women. Furthermore, datas show that the marital status of women have a correlation with their employment in the non-agricultural sector. Indeed, about 80% of Sierra Leone's married, divorced and widowed women were likelier to be employed in 2008. The percentage of employment of the unmarried ones in the non-agricultural sector was during the same year at 40%.

Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament

15.5% of the seats in the National Parliament of Sierra Leone were held by women in 2007[5]. This percentage decreased to 13% the following year[6]. Equitable political representation of women remains still a challenge in Sierra-Leone. Sierra-Leone doesn't seem to follow the trend of post-conflicts african countries such as Liberia and Burundi which have a high representation of women in the decision-making offices.

Overall, MDGTrack Global Index for Sierra Leone is at 20% and the country is deemed as off track[7]

References

  1. UNDP Sierra Leone. MDGs in Sierra Leone. Goal 3
  2. UNDP. Sierra Leone.MDG Country Report 2010
  3. UNDP. Sierra Leone.MDG Country Report 2010
  4. MDG Report 2010. Page 27.
  5. MDG Track Monitor. World Map. Sierra Leone
  6. MDG Report 2010.27
  7. MDGTrack Global Index. Sierra-Leone

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