Sierra Leone Government (Freetown)

7 May 2013

Sierra Leone: President Koroma Launches the MRU Conference On Energy and Gender

His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has said that women's empowerment and access to energy are two main priorities for him personally and his government as a whole.

He made this statement on the occasion of the official launching ceremony of the Mano River Union Conference on Energy and Gender held at The Place, Tokeh Village, Western Rural District. The conference will start today 7th May and end on 9th May, instant.

"Over the next three days you will hear about successful case studies from the MRU and ECOWAS countries.

You will hear from our 'Barefoot Women Solar Engineers' here in Sierra Leone who, through their Barefoot College have demonstrated a clear case for the positive benefits of energy access and women's economic empowerment",

President Koroma said, while adding that, access to energy has thrown up multiple economic opportunities for these women and their communities. "I encourage you to visit the college during your stay", he pleaded.

Please check out link for full speech. http://statehouse.gov.sl/index.php/component/content/article/660-president-koromas-keynote-speech-on-womens-empowerment-through-access-to-energy.

According to the ADB representative, Yero Baldeh, the conference is the kind of solutions that the continent needs to tackle and address women's empowerment and access to economic opportunities.

"The conference on women's access to energy is a milestone in the Mano River Union Basin", said the African Development Bank Resident Representative, Yero Baldeh.

"The Barefoot Women are not just the pride of Sierra Leone or the sub-region, but the entire African continent", said the Mano River Union Secretary General, Hadja Dr Saran Daraba Kaba amidst rapturous applause.

She also noted that the Barefoot Women Solar Engineers at Konta Line have demonstrated that since women had been colonized by science and technology, they have to be freed through science and technology.

Giving a brief background on the road traveled to get to the official launching ceremony of the Mano River Union Conference on Energy and Gender, Gender Advisor to President Koroma, Naasu Fofanah revealed that it was as a result of the forward thinking, attentive and great conviction of President Koroma in gender issues that led to her appointment as Gender Advisor to the president.

"The empowerment of women and youths are my main priorities for my legacy;" she quoted President Koroma, and went on, "I want you in addition to your other roles including advising and supporting the MDAs to bring to my immediate attention issues that require my intervention in promoting women and girls in particular because I want to directly involve in this process."

In her welcome address, Paramount Chief Matilda Minah V acknowledged that MRU sister countries hold traditional and cultural values in the highest esteem, saying that the issue of women and access to energy is very important as it directly relates to their empowerment.

"As traditional leaders and especially as a female traditional Paramount Chief, I understand this issue very well because it is the reality of our women and girls in our communities", said Paramount Chief Matilda Minah V.

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