Workshop: "MPs supporting women, peace and security in Sierra Leone"

12-13 July 2018

In July 2018, Charmaine Rodrigues, CTN's Coordinator, facilitate a workshop for Sierra Leone Members of Parliament on promoting the women, peace and security agenda nationally, including through constitutional and law reform. The workshop was the first of four national workshops that are being funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with support from the Government of Norway.

The Women Peace and Security agenda was formally initiated by the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325,which was endorsed on 31 October 2000. To ensure locally appropriate responses, Member States were encouraged to adopt a UNSCR 1325 National Action Plan (NAP) that would set out each country’s own priorities, taking into account the most critical needs as understood in the national context. In 2010, the Government of Sierra Leone became the third country in West Africa and the seventh country in Africa to domesticate UNSCR 1325 by developing a NAP.

Sierra Leone is shortly to embark producing a UNSCR 1325 NAP, to guide its efforts to address women, peace and security. The workshop agenda was designed to assist the National Parliament to identify its own priorities for support in this area, in particular, in relation to constitutional reform.

A background paper set out the key issues for consideration by Members of Parliament. These included the need for amendment of Section 27(4)(d)&(e) of the 1991 Constitution which allows for discrimination against women. Specifically, while s.27(1) of the Constitution states that “no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory in itself or its effect”, s.27(4)(d)&(e) allows for exceptions, stating that “it shall not apply to any law that makes provision for adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death and customary law.” The recent review of the Constitution recommended reform of this provision, but the new Government of Sierra Leone is still to publicly advise on whether and how it will proceed with constitutional reform.

At the end of the workshop, MPs produced a Resolution for Action setting out the key priorities for Government action, as well as some critical actions that MPs themselves will pursue.