By Zainab Kanu
The United Nation’s Women (UN Women) in collaboration with the media and other stakeholders yesterday ended a three day interactive meeting at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Makeni.
Speaking at the ceremony, the UN Women Communications Officer, Ms. Emma Vincent, said they decided to organize the training in order to promote an understanding of their work and also to further encourage the media develop interest in gender equality and women’s empowerment issues.
She also informed participants that one of the United Nations’ valued strategic partners is the media, as it stands in a position to advocate for the voiceless.
The training, she revealed, has been designed for three purposes, namely, to bring media practitioners from the four regions of the country together to gain a greater understanding of UN Women’s mandate and programmes; to build a strategic relationship with the media in Sierra Leone; and to re-emphasize the crucial role the media is playing in helping women realize their rights.
She also stated that the workshop was also meant to provide an opportunity for UN Women’s partners to learn from and connect with professionals and experts in the area of gender and the role of the media.
“In some African countries,” Emma Vincent said, “women still lag behind compared to men, and the UN Women is a department that has been established to seek the interest of women and move them forward.”
She stressed that as an organization, they are also dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, a global champion for women and girls. She also emphasized that UN Women in Sierra Leone needs the media as one of its strong allies particularly ahead of the November 17 elections because of the increased participation of women and increased coverage of potential women candidates.
During one of the programmes interactive sessions, Gender Specialist, Mrs. Willette James, said that if the women of Sierra Leone are to take their right position in society, an enabling environment should be in place and their male counterparts should also give them the necessary support.
She said after the civil war women were able to make their mark by helping to bring peace and help maintain peace in the country, noting that today women who have been given the opportunity to take leadership positions have proven to do it better than some men.
She also said that gone are the days when women, girls and disabled persons were not part of the decision making process, stressing that in order for national development to be realized, women’s role must be respected.
She noted that development organizations should promote women for leadership positions even if it is contrary to the existing culture.
One of the highlights of the workshop was the signing of a commitment by the Gender Media Club to promote gender issues.