Map of Sierra Leone

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

Two men and a woman in police uniforms take notes during a training.
USAID assistance supports female participation and leadership.


Achieving gender equity remains a challenge in Sierra Leone. Women enjoy limited access to decision-making power, and access to and control over resources. We promote gender equality and women’s empowerment across sectors by focusing on improving women’s health, increasing their participation in governance at all levels, and enhancing their economic status.

Food insecurity is more pronounced in households headed by women. We support women-led enterprises, and ensures that women hold significant leadership positions in producer, business, and forest management committees, as well as in their communities and learning groups. Women benefit from trainings, improved farming technologies and grants that enable them to manage complex and medium enterprises effectively, to engage in formal transactions, and to expand their agricultural markets. These significant investments boost production, processing, marketing and increase incomes and local economies. Such support has enabled some women-owned market associations to manage contracts for the supply of rice, sorghum and benni (sesame) seed in country.

Natural resource management activities include training programs for women and initiatives that lead to better management of forest resources in order to enhance potential economic benefits. Women are being trained to actively participate in developing forest management value chains such as eco-tourism, honey, and other non-timber forest products.

In the area of political processes, USAID has trained female candidates and supported the registration of increased numbers of women voters for the 2012 national and local elections.  U.S. assistance also promotes democratic governance at the local district level and among associations.  Women representatives, including councilors, have now been empowered to take on financial leadership roles.

Women are the majority of the beneficiaries and agents of change of USAID-funded health activities.  Health promoters, many of them women, work with lead mothers to promote pro-nutrition actions among pregnant and lactating mothers – for their own and their children’s benefit – and to encourage mothers to attend prenatal and postnatal care. Women are key targets for hygiene education in communities, which is helping to reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases. 

Last updated: August 05, 2014

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