Map of Sierra Leone

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment
Through continuous sensitization, training in leadership skills, advocacy and planning and entrepreneurship, USAID helps empower women in Sierra Leone.
USAID

Achieving gender equity remains a challenge in Sierra Leone. Women are confronted with limited access to decision-making processes, and access to and control over resources. USAID promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment across sectors by focusing on improving women’s health, political, social and economic rights in Sierra Leone.

Symptoms and conditions of Food insecurity are more visible in households headed by women. USAID supports women-led enterprises, and ensure that women hold significant leadership positions in producer, business, and forest management committees, as well as in their communities and learning groups. Through the USAID funded Women Empowered for Leadership and Development (WELD) project, women in Sierra Leone benefit from entrepreneurship and basic arithmetic 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 activities. Women now have access to loans and savings through the implementation of WELD Program; thereby increasing the financial independence of women and increased networking of women through regular meetings held by the loan groups and support to members from the social funds of the savings and loan group members 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 ecotourism, honey, and other non-timber forest products. Women through the WELD program have benefited from small and medium term enterprise training to improve their income and living standards within the communities.

In the area of political processes, USAID trained female candidates and supported the registration of increased numbers of women voters for the 2018 national and local elections. With support from the WELD program, political parties and election management bodies in Sierra Leone engaged to identify women candidates for the local council and parliamentary elections for 2018 in Sierra Leone. WELD supplied women with the skills, experience and will to run for and serve in public office. The demand for women in leadership is also been strengthened. U.S. assistance also promotes democratic governance at the local district level and among associations. Women representatives, including local council representatives, have now been empowered to take on development and 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 waterborne diseases.

 

Last updated: October 30, 2019

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