State House, Freetown, Friday 3 November 2023 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has engaged female ministers and deputy ministers of government to hear their stories, as well as to give them his own input on various gender-sensitive leadership strategies.
Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Dr Isata Mahoi, spoke on behalf of her colleagues and thanked President Bio for giving women, including those elected and appointed, the environment and political will to make numbers in cabinet and leadership positions.
Dr. Mahoi said their engagement with the President was to present the discussion outcomes of a just concluded consultative meeting of all ministers and deputies, adding that it was aimed at strengthening collaboration between female ministers on networking and supporting themselves toward ensuring delivery on the Five Big Gamechangers of the President.
“His Excellency, I am proud to inform you that during our engagement the GEWE Act was applauded by all donor partners present at the meeting, with tremendous commitment to supporting women in all ministries. There is a high expectation of female leaders, especially the younger ones who were present during the meeting, with respect to their understating of the role of governance and how they should be able to perform their tasks.
“We noticed that there is the need for women to network and embark on mentoring and coaching, thereby creating peer support for each other, reaching out to each other and ensuring that we all meet our desired goals. His Excellency, what came out clearly during the consultation was the fact that there was goodwill from our donor partners who are ready to provide financial support for any of those interactions,” she confirmed.
Dr. Mahoi added: “Another deliberation was the setting up of the new map of the Network of Female Ministers and Parliamentarians, the caucus of all female ministers, and the network of female councilors. This space is to intensify and strengthen ourselves in terms of ensuring that we deliver. We will encourage and support ourselves, from developing strategies to changing the narrative that women cannot perform better”.
In his remarks, President Julius Maada Bio congratulated the female ministers and deputies, adding that he was delighted to be with them to discuss how they could make an impact with women in the lead. He also appreciated their meeting to consult on putting themselves together, pointing out that the more they were on the cause of a revolution, the more reason they must be together.
“It is a man’s world, and it still is, but we can change it, provided you are ready to take the lead. It has been tough to get women to be at the helm. In some instances, where we have broken the glass ceiling, it has been difficult to survive as a result of the commodification and objectification of women.
“These are stereotypes that we can change, and you have to be ready by working together to make sure that we do not only change the stereotype but also make sure that you succeed and go beyond the standard expectations in your respective positions. I know you have what it takes to succeed; I know you have what it takes to perform your various duties. You just have to apply yourselves accordingly,” he urged.
The President said he was particularly heartened that the women had started to get together to realise that they were the pioneers of a long journey for women in the future.
“I grew up with women, so I know women better. Therefore, it is my own value system and understanding of the special power and strength that you have as a woman. That is what has propelled me into this action and we will bring you to the fore. It is now a challenge for you also to tell each and every one of us that yes, we were kept at the back, but when we are at the fore, we can lead and lead successfully, deliver, and perform,” President Bio concluded.
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