UN Women Executive Director on high-level mission to Sierra Leone in solidarity over the impact of Ebola
Date: Monday, March 23, 2015
From 22-24 March, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka visited Sierra Leone, meeting with the President, high-level officials of the Government of Sierra Leone, women leaders and other stakeholders to discuss the gender dimensions of the Ebola virus. The Executive Director’s mission also reiterated UN Women’s commitment to the country’s national development agenda and third poverty reduction strategy, the Agenda for Prosperity.
The Executive Director inaugurated a UN Women-supported Mano River Union First Ladies Initiative on Maternal and Reproductive Health Services at the Kenema District Government Hospital. The initiative aims to put essential services back on track and rebrand Maternal and Child Health services to restore confidence in their use, which has been eroded in the wake of the Ebola Virus Disease.
Meeting with UN Women’s Executive Director on 23 March, Sierra Leone’s President H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma stressed his desire to re-engage with programmes focused on addressing women’s issues. He reiterated the need for his country to implement new legislation for gender equality, put in place relevant structures and run sensitization campaigns. He pledged his full support to UN Women in all fora, saying: “You can count on me. Whatever I will be required to do to advance the cause. You will no longer be preaching. I am already converted.”
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka also met with representatives of civil society organizations and women leaders from various sectors. They discussed how to drive women’s full participation in decision-making, in social, economic and political circles, as well as how to ensure that women play a central role in the ongoing Ebola response.
UN Women’s Executive Director met with representatives of the UN country team in Sierra Leone, which included representatives from several UN agencies. Through that meeting, she shared her vision on ways to advance UN Women’s priority areas in the country, within the context of the Ebola response, as well as to support the country’s development plan, an “Agenda for Prosperity”.
At a working dinner with the UN country team in Sierra Leone, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka heard from representatives of various UN agencies, including UNMEER Ebola Crisis Manager Madame Bintou Keita. They shared key strategies, lessons learned, as well as remaining challenges in confronting the Ebola virus. UN Women’s concrete actions on integrating gender dimensions in the Ebola response were also highlighted.
The Executive Director’s high-level mission to Sierra Leone comes at an opportune time to express solidarity with the Government and people of Sierra Leone as the country continues to battle with the devastating effects of the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, which has left a cumulative number of more than 10,000 people infected, 3,480 dead and more than 3,000 orphans.