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Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information looks forward to boosting media cooperation with Lebanon

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

National News Agency – Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information tells NNA looking forward to boosting media cooperation with Lebanon, hails role of Lebanese Diaspora buoying economy

NNA – The newly appointed Minister of Information and Communications of Sierra Leone, Mr. Mohammad Bangura, is a renowned media practitioner and media owner. Now that he has assumed his duties as MoIC, the media landscape of Sierra Leone is pining great hope on having Mr. Bangura amend relations between the country’s journalists association and the government.

“Media is an interesting cause in my life. I did my studies in Canada, and I have an honors degree in Mass Media Communication. I returned to Sierra Leone back in 2006, and I currently have my own newspaper,” Bangura said in an interview accorded to the National News Agency.

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Mr. Bangura is currently in Lebanon, along with Sierra Leone’s Vice President, Bockarie Foh, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, Samura Kamara, marking the inauguration of the Honorary Consulate of Sierra Leone in Saifi, Beirut.

“The media landscape is a bit different in Sierra Leone because of the economic problems that the nation endures. There are a lot of difficulties when it comes to independent media. The economic trends of the media sometimes cause a lot of compromises. When we take a look at advertisements in Sierra Leone, we notice that very few people do commercial advertisements, and this is due to the fact that most of the commercial advertisements are made by the government,” the Minister explained as giving a closer look at the way the media industry functions in Sierra Leone.

“There is a strong tendency for the media landscape to practice self-censorship in a bid to maintain the trust of the sides that provide them with economic support. Coming from a media background, I have decided to become a politician, and this has been a very easy transformation for me. I have a lot of friends within the media sector, a lot of good will, and a lot of publicity. All of these factors have provided me with a very easy transformation process,” Mr. Bangura said.

Touching on the relationship between the media and the government in Sierra Leone, Mr. Bangura described it as “shaky”, blaming it all on the country’s political trends, which control most of Sierra Leone’s newspapers.

“Our country’s media landscape is too politically entrenched. We have eleven political parties in Sierra Leone, two of which are run by major political parties. Each of these two major political parties has a media influence within the media landscape. Due to the lack of training and exposure, as well as lack of economic exchange, the independent media suffers some difficulties, and it has to abide by the law. Private media is consistently being reported at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID); however, most of these cases have nothing to do with the government, but rather more with lack of professionalism. With my background and my close relationship with the media, this will change,” Mr. Bangura pledged, disclosing the fact that he will also be working hard on abolishing the 1965 Public Order Act of Sierra Leone once a better alternative is found.

The Sierra Leone Public Order Act of 1965 (POA) appears to provide the Government great latitude in criminalizing criticisms, comments or opinions that the Government dislikes or finds unduly critical of its policies.

Sharing his primary goal as Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Communications, and the changes he’s planning to make to improve this sector, the Minister said: “When we talk about the Ministry of Information and Communications, people think it’s all about promoting the government’s policies. I would so much like to steer clear from this trend. I have a Deputy Minister and a Director of Communications who function within the MoIC. Sierra Leone also has a presidential spokesman who will be looking at the government’s policy towards the people. I am looking forward to boosting the role of Information and Communications Technology ICT, a move that will sure help our country prosper. ICT will also help the country open to outside communication. Thank God we have Fiber optics technology in our country, a thing which makes it easier for us to communicate with the outside world.”

The Minister went on to share his plans to give the kiss of life to Sierra Leone’s Broadcasting Corporation and Sierra Leone’s News Agency.

“My first 90 days as Minister of Information and Communications I will make sure to resuscitate both media outlets. I also want to bring the association of journalists very close to the government – perhaps by initiating an annual dinner to get journalists to sit with the president in a peaceful atmosphere and a close human bond,” Mr. Bangura said.

Concerning the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and the economic blow that the region had suffered due to this ghastly disease, the Minister confirmed that his country has finally managed to “put Ebola aside”.

“Prior to Ebola, our economy was one of the best, and then Ebola struck out of nowhere. Thank God we have managed to put Ebola aside; the country’s economic wheel is moving again. We are now open again to foreign investors, and we are looking forward to letting the world know about our unmatched beaches. We also have a landscape that is so suitable for touring couples. Sierra Leone boasts the second biggest harbour in the region, not to mention some of the most successful businesses in the world.”

As for the role of the Lebanese Diaspora at the economic and social levels, the Minister described it as “amazing”.

“The Lebanese community has played an essential role in the country’s development. When Ebola struck, the Lebanese offered a huge amount of donations. The Lebanese own small and big scale businesses in Sierra Leone and they employ locals to work with them. The Lebanese are also in the mine industry, as well as in the import and export industry. The Lebanese have turned our economy around and this is why we are here today opening a consulate in Lebanon. In the near future we plan to open a permanent embassy in Lebanon.”

Explaining the reason why it took his country so long to open a consulate in Lebanon, Mr. Bangura said that was all a “resources” issue.

“Ours is a very fragile economy. Setting up a consulate requires a big budget,” he clarified.

Mr. Bangura finally hailed the close existing relations between the media outlets of Sierra Leone and those of Lebanon.

“In the future, I want to see stronger ties between Lebanon and Sierra Leone. I’m looking forward to initiating exchange programs with the National News Agency, which we hope will help raise the standards of our local news agencies.”

APC New Jersey : Mounting excitement over huge Inauguration and Fund-raiser on April 30

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

By KABS KANU :

All roads lead to the HOLIDAY INN at 195 Davidson Avenue, Somerset , New Jersey on Saturday April 30, 2016, the big day that all partisans of the ruling APC  have been talking about.  It is at this posh and resplendent hotel that the much-talked-about and much-awaited grand Inauguration ceremony and Fund-Raising Dance of the All People’s Congress ( APC ) New Jersey will be held.

New Jerseyans are very adept at staging big occasions and this one on April 30 in Somerset will be no exception.

Partisans of the APC and supporters and well-wishers of the newly-elected executive of APC New Jersey will be traveling from all parts of the Continental USA  to attend this mammoth function , which is already the talk of New Jersey.

It is even being anticipated that some government officials in Freetown who hail from New Jersey will be traveling to attend this Inauguration and Fund-raising program.

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MESSRS ALIMAMY TURAY ( RIGHT ) AND DONALD CLINE-THOMAS .

The newly-elected President of APC New Jersey , Mr. Alimamy Turay and the Organizing Secretary , Mr. Donald Cline-Thomas , over the weekend  paid a courtesy call on the Publisher and CEO of Cocorioko, Leeroy Wilfred Kabs-Kanu to thank him for the tremendous support he is giving the New Jersey APC Chapter and to update him about the program.

According to both officials, everything is going on fine  and patrons and ordinary tickets are flying off the shelves at an unprecedented  rate. Also, members are all excited about the oncoming program .

One of the best news coming out of New Jersey presently is the massive membership drive that has been undertaken by the APC-NJ. Both Messers Alimamy Turay and Donald Cline -Thomas told Rev. Kabs Kanu that the membership of the party in New Jersey has grown at a magnificent rate and both men are satisfied with the new number of members and their commitment to the party.

WE WILL BRING YOU MORE UPDATES OF THE PROGRAM.

“The Concept That Kailahun Is SLPP Stronghold Is Non-Existent” : Hon. Regina Marah

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

By Pasco Temple

Hon. Regina Marah the All People’s Congress (APC) female Member of Parliament representing Malema, Mandu and Dia Chiefdoms in Constituency 05 in the Kailahun District has categorically said that the notion that Kailahun is the stronghold of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is not only false, but non- existent.

According to her “the National Electoral Commission has conducted two bye elections and the APC has won all-which makes it a proven fact, that the ruling All People’s Congress Party now have supports and representation in Kailahun, thereby nullifying the fairytale.”
“In some places like Constituency 05, she added, “I can boast that the APC is stronger than the SLPP, because I (Hon. Regina Marah) am an APC member representing Constituency 05 in the House of Parliament. “I defeated the opposition candidate put up by the SLPP.”

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Addressing members of the All People’s Congress (APC) Washington, Maryland and Virginia (Metropolitan) Chapter at 1640 New Hampshire Avenue Hyattsville in Maryland on Sunday 2016, at a meeting well attended by its members, Hon. Regina Marah said “i was in New York for a meeting on Gender and later decided to attend this end of month APC meeting in Maryland, to get the feel and share the love of APC, and also give an update on the happenings of politics in Kailahun District, eastern Sierra Leone.

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“Let me reiterate, “President, the concept of Kailahun being the stronghold of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party(SLPP) is non- existent. “Kailahun is not a stronghold of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
“I am Hon. Regina Marah a female member of Parliament in Sierra Leone representing Constituency 05 in Kailahun District under the banner of the APC. So, where is the stronghold?
According to her, President Ernest Bai Koroma had transformed Sierra Leone from a country of imagery to realism. “There is evidence of development everywhere you go in Sierra Leone.

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“In Kailahun district, we now practically experience governance: the people of Kailahun now directly benefit from good governance. Kailahun District have better roads, improved living conditions, Water, Access to banks and improved access to agricultural activities.
We now have easy access to Freetown the capital through government transportation systems. “All of these were lacking before the advent of President Ernest Bai Koroma and the APC.” Said Hon. Regina Marah.
She admonished her female APC party members from dillydallying and encouraged more women to come forward and participate in politics.
Earlier, Amr. Mrs. Rasie Kargbo Sierra Leone’s State Chief of protocol (SCOPE) advised the gathering to “Put aside their differences and work collectively as a united family”

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Ambassador Mrs. Rasie Kargbo, said she was at the meeting as a civil servant and an observer at the invitation of Madam Beatrice Conteh President of the APC Washington Metropolitan Chapter.

In her address, she preached peace, love, unity, sincerity and oneness of purpose to the general membership. She said President Ernest Bai Koroma takes pleasure in seeing his people live in peace and harmony.
Amr. Mrs. Rasie Kargbo admonished Madam Beatrice Conteh to be more tolerant with the general membership and must prepare to accept the blame for the ugly and share praises with the general membership for the good.
“Respect each other, work as a team and continue to be a formidable force. “Don’t shelve issues under the carpet.
“Where ever and whenever there are indifferences and challenges, please try as best as possible as an executive body to get resolution through dialogue and where necessary, form a committee to judiciously look into issues and proffer sage advises.” Said Amr. Mrs. Rasie Kargbo. Adding, “Differences among brethren are inevitable.”

She said challenges are among siblings of a single parent, let alone you are from different backgrounds who only came together out of love for a Political Party. “Please bear with one another.”
She gave a vivid example citing the teeth and a tongue in the mouth, wherein “the teeth can give the tongue a bloody bite: but at the end of the day, both of them remain in the mouth. “In most cases, after the bite, the tongue will begin to apply caution in its movement in the Mouth and the Teeth takes its time to chew.
“So, challenges are inevitable and prevalent everywhere.” She called for patience for each other and admonished them to refrain from vices that will negatively impact on the oneness of the party.

Responding, Chairman of the occasion Madam Beatrice Conteh President of the APC Washington Metropolitan Chapter thanked Amr. Mrs. Rasie Kargbo for her time and Interest in the APC Washington Metropolitan Chapter and assured her that her admonishment will be an added bearing to the path of the Chapter.
According to her, “I invited you to this meeting as one of Sierra Leone’s female role models: a woman of character who has held several top positions, and whose example is worth emulating.

Madam Beatrice Conteh described Ambassador Mrs. Rasie Kargbo as an exemplary woman, who was the first female Head of Chancery at the Embassy of Sierra Leone in Banjul the Gambia, the first female Head of Chancery Embassy of Sierra Leone Washington DC, first Female Director General Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and very first female State Chief of Protocol Republic of Sierra Leone.

Responding, several members of the APC Washington Metro Chapter thanked Amr. Mrs. Rasie Kargbo for taking her time off her busy schedule to attend their meeting not only to admonish them, but also giving them the privilege and opportunity to know her.
Mr. Abdul Modie Kargbo assured Amr. Rasie Kargbo and the Hon. Regina Marah that as dedicated members of the APC, they will resist any attempt by any individual, group or groups of people who will attempt to bring rancor to the APC Washington Metro Chapter.
“We suffered to bring this Chapter to what it is today: So we won’t allow any sycophant or ill-motivated person to throw spanner to our works.”

Mr. Joseph Kamara a member of the APC Washington Metro Chapter also called for oneness and urged his fellow compatriot to adhere to what their guests have said.

Similar sentiments and stance were expressed by few other members. Singing of the National pledge, APC victory song and chanting of APC slogans marked the climax of the meeting.

Sierra Leone Parliament approves nine presidential nominees for government posts

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

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The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Tuesday 05th April 2016, after a protracted debate ratified Nine Presidential Nominees to serve in various high offices of State.In presenting the nominees to the House for approval, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu, Majority Leader of the House said that “at this stage, I want to take this opportunity to thank members of the public who contributed to the vetting process by providing relevant information to assist the Committee. By your contributions, you enriched the hearings and I wish to thank you and to encourage you to continue doing so”.
Following the debate, the recommendations contained in the Fourth Report of the Committee on Appointments and the Public Service was unanimously adopted by the House and approved the following through a collection of voices:

1. Hon. Alimamy P. Koroma-Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China
2. Captain (Rtd) Abdul Rahman Kamara-Deputy Minister of Defence
3. Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden-Minister, Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children?s Affairs
4. Mr. Monfred M. Sesay-Justice of the Court of Appeal
5. Mr. Bai Mahmoud Bangura-Minister of Youth Affairs
6. Ms. Nanette Thomas-Minister of Political and Public Affairs
7. Mr. Ahmed Khanou-Minister of Sports
8. Mr. Sidi Yahya Tunis-Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and
9. Mr. Mahmoud Tarawalie-Deputy Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment

Members of Parliament on both sides of the aisle who contributed to the debate, commended President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for nominating credible and experienced Sierra Leoneans to aid him in governance for the actualization of the Agenda for Prosperity. However, nominees were cautioned to collaborate with their Deputies for the benefit of the country, whilst thinking and acting Sierra Leone.

Presidential appointees are expected to sail through Parliament

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

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COMMITTEE ON APPOINTMENTS INTERVIEWS NINE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEES

President Koroma has made the best choice of Ministers and Ambassadors for the country. Nine of those fine young men and women were today interviewed by the Committee on appointment and public service in the House of Parliament. Here are the nine nominees interviewed:

Captain (Rtd) Abdul Rahman Kamara-proposed Deputy Minister of Defence
Dr. Christiana Thorpe-proposed Deputy Minister I, MEST
Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden-proposed Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs
Mr. Monfred M. Sesay-proposed Justice of the Court of Appeal
Mr. Mohamed Bangura-proposed Minister of Information and Communications
Mr. Bai Mahmoud Bangura-proposed Minister of Youth Affairs
Mr. Ahmed Khanou-proposed Minister of Sports
Ms. Nanette Thomas-proposed Minister of Political and Public Affairs and
Mr. Sidie Yahya Tunis-proposed Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs

By Koroma APC

Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Minister of Social Welfare , Gender and Children’s Affairs -designate speaks

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

My friend Samuel Serry of Gbonkolenken Chiefdom came over to my house to collect the trophies I am donating for the Gbonkolenken football finals this weekend. He came with his utterly delightful children with whom I hung out on my front porch.

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Many say this proposed minister is a natural with children – of all ages. Accompanying this update are also selfie-stick photos which were taken 3 weeks ago on Saturday March 5th 2016 when I did my usual annual lecturing of children to celebrate International Children’s Day of Broadcasting.

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If approved by Parliament, I intend to raise the profile & wellbeing of Sierra Leone children. I will have only a short time before the next general elections but I will do my best.

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“If approved by Parliament, I intend to raise the profile of Sierra Leone children; increasing chances of making them enjoy their rights to live in a safe environment and with as much educational and medical support as the State can provide within reason. The children of Sierra Leone deserve nothing less because they are the real future”.
~ Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden
Designated Minister of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs.

Sierra Leone at the UN : What Hon. Kabia’s CSW statement told the world about our nation and ruling government

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

By KABS KANU :

The statement delivered on the podium of the 60th Session of the Commission of the Status of Women at the UN  yesterday by the Acting Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs , Ms. Isata Kabia, crystallized the dramatic strides that have been made by the All People’s Congress ( APC ) Government on youth and gender empowerment and equality in Sierra Leone.

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SIERRA LEONEANS JUBILATING WITH DR.SYLVIA BLYDEN , ONE OF THE PROMINENT WOMEN IN THE COUNTRY, WHO WAS  BROUGHT BY PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA INTO  THE GOVERNANCE AND DECISION-MAKING DYNAMISM OF THE NATION IN THE PRESIDENT’S DRIVE TO PROMOTE GENDER EMPOWERMENT. THERE ARE 11 WOMEN IN ALL IN GOVERNANCE NOW.

The well-delivered and well-applauded statement , first of all,  impressively underscored Sierra Leone’s foreign policy objective of engagement and cooperation with both her bilateral and multilateral partners in the strive to create a better world when the minister  epitomized this spirit when she told  the huge UN gathering that her  delegation “wishes to align itself with the statements delivered by Thailand on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Tanzania on behalf of the African Group.”

Sierra Leone has an indelible record of being an active and useful participant in deliberations and action at the UN.

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PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA IS RIDING ON A TREMENDOUS WAVE OF POPULARITY FOR FOLLOWING INTERNATIONAL BEST PRACTICES BY STACKING HIS CABINET WITH PROMISING YOUTHS AND WOMEN

The Group of 77 and the African Group are two important organizations in which Sierra Leone is playing a leading role at the UN. As a matter of fact, Sierra Leone is the Chair of the African Union Committee of 10 African states responsible for  canvassing and propagating the African Common Position in the intergovernmental negotiations for  UN Security Council Reform .

The statement went on to encapsulate Sierra Leone’s unstinting  support in the strides being made by the world towards the attainment of gender equality goals and the empowerment of women.

Sierra Leone, by positive actions in the past and present as will be seen later ,  is showing  that she is in sync with the world in efforts to attain these  two above- mentioned lofty goals–Gender equality and empowerment of women.

President Ernest Koroma has just unveiled a relatively new cabinet composed of many women , some of whom have been playing a commendable role in the country, like the Awareness Times Publisher, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, who is the face of the women of the country in the democratic media criticism and analyses of socio-political and economic events in the country by women ( An occupation once the sole preserve of men in Sierra Leone ).

At the CSW, Sierra Leone  reaffirmed President Koroma’s  support  for “the effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and other international agreements that promote women’s empowerment, and compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women”, which the statement  believes “are prerequisites for sustainable development.”

This is a manifestation of our country’s ability to work with other nations and multilateral organizations to bring social, economic and political development to the world.  Both at the UN and international parlays , Sierra Leone has a strong reputation for  being a useful partner-in- world progress .

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HON. ISATA KABIA : TOLD THE WORLD THE REALITY IN SIERRA LEONE

 

The Acting Minister of Social Welfare , Hon. Isata Kabia, in her statement, also helped to propagate THE AGENDA FOR PROSPERITY, President Koroma’s flagship national development blueprint for reducing poverty in Sierra Leone and for trottling Sierra Leone to the apex of socio-economic and political development  .

In a very significant  segment  of the statement ,  the minister made  the world to know  that even before this very 60th Session of the CSW, Sierra Leoneans had already created a splendid platform for gender equality and empowerment . She told the UN : “This poverty reduction strategy program (PRSP III (2013 – 2018) comprises 7 pillars which mainstream gender and has a pillar 8 as a stand-alone pillar on “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment”.

In making  such an important  revelation to this UN Session , the minister has made the whole world know that Sierra Leone has not been left behind in continental  efforts to change the dynamism and reality of today , vis-à-vis the involvement of women  in the decision-making process  of the world. As a matter of fact, Sierra Leone is marching right ahead and setting records not only in Africa but the world.

As God would have it , the CSW Session ‘s opening day program coincided with the announcement in Freetown of the recent cabinet reshuffle in Sierra Leone during which  the Government, under the wise leadership of the crusading President Ernest Bai Koroma  proved that our nation’s commitment to gender equality and empowerment is not a lip-service, but part of the governance mechanism and reality of the country. PRESIDENT KOROMA  reformed a cabinet that catapulted women to 11 ministerial  positions ! ! !  Yes, you heard it right .  Sierra Leone can now boast of 11 ministers of government, tasked with helping President Koroma and the Ministries, departments and agencies ( MDAs )  move our nation to the citadel of socio-economic and political renaissance. The Government of Sierra Leone is showing the world that the place of the woman is no longer just in the kitchen.

Women are now as equally reckoned as men in the day-to-day governance of the country.

Furthermore, it is not only the women who are being empowered in Sierra Leone by the Government of President Ernest Bai Koroma. YOUTHFULNESS  runs throughout the cabinet as the President is also giving youngsters the glorious opportunity to serve their people and engage in decision-making.

Thus, Sierra Leone , once the Athens of West Africa and The Beacon of Light of Africa,  is moving forward in making the world a better place for all its people —Young, old, men and women.

The injection of more women and youth into the government has won President Koroma wide-spread national and international acclaim.

In Sierra Leone today, the grateful citizens of the country are delighted that the dictum of governance  is no longer “BEHIND EVERY SUCCESSFUL MAN THERE IS A WOMAN”.  Rather, it is now, “BESIDE EVERY SUCCESSFUL NATION, THERE IS A WOMAN.”

In part 2 of this article, I will examine other areas of international diplomacy , international cooperation and international change , where Sierra Leone is also helping to blaze the trail.

 

CSW Session at the UN : Women build peace’ but their voices and stories have been ignored

Friday, March 18th, 2016

 

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini tells a gathering in the Chapel of Christ the Lord at the Episcopal Church Center on March 16 that women’s experiences and voices are often discarded and erased from decision-making processes and even from history. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] For centuries and all over the world, women have always worked for peace and, while their skills are more needed now than ever, one peacemaker says women’s stories and their abilities have been discounted and erased.

Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, co-founder and executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based International Civil Society Action Network, told a March 16 gathering at the Episcopal Church Center in New York that the rulers of the world – political and otherwise – do not acknowledge the basic fact that “when you look across time and geography when women collectively organize as women, they don’t use violence.”

“We might be disrupters; we might have a level of militancy but it’s not as if you have guerilla groups of women,” said, Naraghi-Anderlini, also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, who in 2011, was the first senior expert on gender and inclusion on the United Nations’ Mediation Standby Team. Naraghi-Anderlini was born in Iran and educated in England at Oxford and Cambridge.

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT MEETING

 

The March 16 gathering was connected to the 60th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women March 14-24. Women from across the Episcopal Church and throughout the Anglican Communion representing more than 20 countries have come to New York to attend the session and various parallel events such as Naraghi-Anderlini’s presentation.

Her point about the peace-making role of women was vividly described during a question and answer session when Claudette Kigeme, the national coordinator for the Mother’s Union in Burundi, said women in her country are crying out for peace and for the protection of unarmed people, but they are speaking in a country “where truth cannot be said.”

Naraghi-Anderlini said that as the U.N. lives its stated mandate of peacemaking, it must begin by paying attention to the people of its member states rather to the governments of those states, to whom the organization currently “kowtows.” And that attention needs to be paid in a coherent way that does not let other countries claim to be poised to help a trouble country when in fact they are simply pursuing their own agenda, she added.

Also, she asked Kigeme, “What are the channels of access and influence that you have as an Anglican Communion” to address the ongoing conflict in Burundi. “How do you get your church leaders and others to raise these issues? Who’s whispering what to whom?”

Naraghi-Anderlini warned that those in authority will often try to distract women from their goals. “What I see all the time is that they try to depoliticize us because this is really about women getting into the most exclusive male spaces” she said, the spaces of military men and high-level male politicians who “are making decisions for the future of the lives millions of people.”

“And, as women, we are saying: ‘Excuse me; we want to have a space at the table.’ And they try to depoliticize us and throw us back into those social issues” and away from “the big decision-making spaces” where major political and security decisions are weighed.

In her wide-ranging presentation, Naraghi-Anderlini also discussed what she said were the tensions inherent in living in a world that is more pluralistic than it has ever been, and where communications technology does not allow countries to hide conflicts between their stated values and their actions.

As nations struggle to build a common identity amid growing diversity in which many groups practice identity-based politics, “a minority of extreme, exclusionary, violent groups is are filling the void that others have not,” she said.

“Extremism has gone mainstream,” Naraghi-Anderlini said. “And in this country we have to watch out because we’re seeing it in our election campaign that when you start saying stuff about people and demonizing them, you don’t know what that will do.”

The Rev. Valerie Webster, left, an Episcopal Church delegate to the UNCSW from Montana, comments during a question and answer session March 16 with Sanam Naraghi-Anderlin right, in the Chapel of Christ the Lord at the Episcopal Church Center. Beth Adamson, center, facilitated the discussion. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service
The Rev. Valerie Webster, left, an Episcopal Church delegate to the UNCSW from Montana, comments during a question and answer session March 16 with Sanam Naraghi-Anderlin, right, in the Chapel of Christ the Lord at the Episcopal Church Center. Beth Adamson, center, facilitated the discussion. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The UNCSW serves to promote women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields, and to make recommendations on urgent problems regarding women’s rights. The conference has convened annually or biannually since 1946; it reached a turning point in Beijing in 1995 when it adopted a global policy framework for gender equality and the empowerment of women that identified 12 areas of critical concern.

The theme for the 60th annual UNCSW is “Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development,” and the review theme carried over from the 57th session is “The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls,” which includes a framework for addressing, preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.

The session’s theme follows the 2015 endorsement by world leaders of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 new Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets that aim to end poverty, combat inequalities and promote prosperity while protecting the environment. The SDGs build upon the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000

Anglican and Episcopal delegates will also participate in Ecumenical Women’s advocacy, including training, ecumenical worship, visiting permanent missions at the United Nations, and continuing advocacy upon return to their local communities.

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

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End of second Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone : Health Minister gives statement to mark day

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND SANITATION, DR. ABU BAKARR FOFANAH TO MARK THE END OF THE SECOND OUTBREAK OF EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE IN SIERRA LEONE

Dear Listeners and Viewers,

I am pleased to announce that, the Government of Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, has been informed by the World Public Health Governing body, the Health Organization that the second outbreak of Ebola virus disease which was announced on the 2nd January 2016 has ended today Thursday 17th March 2016.
HEALTH MINISTER

Health and Sanitation Minister, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah

On behalf of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his Government, I want to seize this joyous moment to thank you the people of this country for your contribution to the success we are celebrating today. In the same vein, let me also take this opportunity to extend the deep appreciation to His Excellency, the President, his Government, and people to our Health Development Partners who are simply too many to mention individually in this short statement.

Since the world’s first recorded outbreak of EVD, in Zaire, in 1976, there has been about 40 outbreaks globally, 35 of which occurred in Africa. Except for South Africa, which has experienced only one outbreak in 1996 and has not recorded another since, each of the other countries have had more than one outbreak of EVD, some as many as five.

What this record id telling us is that once a country has had an outbreak of EVD, it is more a question of when and where within the country the next outbreak will spring up. In this regards, our collective focus should be on how we can strengthen our health system so that we are better prepared to respond robustly to any future attack by the virus as we did in the just ended second outbreak.
We want to remember all those who have lost their lives in the two outbreaks. May their souls rest in perfect peace. I also want to salute our first line responders, who are always there when duty calls.

Lastly, let me take this opportunity again to re-echo the previous message of His Excellency, the President on need to avoid stigmatizing our survivors. Let us continue to embrace them and give them all the support they need.
I thank you all for listening.

CSW 60 Session at the UN : Gender equality recognized as critical component of economic development

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

 

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT MEETING

By KABS KANU :

United Nations member states , civil society and business leaders attending the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women ( CSW ) in New York have agreed that Gender equality is critical to economic development. They have also recognized gender equality as a fundamental human right, central to driving the global economy and achieving the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This was the outcome of  the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Annual Event yesterday, which  focused on the multiplier effect of empowering women and girls in advancing all development issues and the enormous opportunity for business to lead on promoting gender equality.

women empowerment

 

The keynote address was given by His Excellency Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, President of Costa Rica. In his statement, he noted that : “The time is right. International consensus has been reached, at Beijing+20 and in Agenda 2030, about the importance of women’s empowerment in the global sustainability agenda.” He emphasized that “a society that puts gender equality at its forefront not only grows economically but becomes more human.”

The Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, who also delivered a statement at the event , observed that : “We cannot achieve our Sustainable Development Goals without securing the full and equal rights of half of the world’s population, in law and in practice.” He noted that: “when companies invest in women, they see a range of benefits and a return on investment. It is clear that gender equality is a business issue.”

The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said that : “The engagement and commitment of the private sector to gender equality are essential to reaching the Agenda 2030 goals and aspirations. Gender equality and sustainability must be integral to every business plan and strategy.”

SIERRA LEONE is being represented at the session by a high-powered delegation, led by the Minister of State 2 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ms. Isata Kabia . The delegation  consists of  minister of the government , civil society, the media  and women’s and children’s groups .

The Minister Counselor/Head of Chancery of the Sierra Leone Embassy to the U.S, Mrs. Isha Sillah, is also attending the session.