UN Women and Sierra Leone UNCT organize a panel discussion on the theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”
This discussion took place with panelists drawn from women leaders in different spheres including education, business, justice sector, agriculture as well as women living with disability. In collaboration with the University of Sierra Leone, The Students Union, and the Fourah Bay College (FBC), it included a “No Manels!” campaign on All male panels (MANELS) in strategic conversations, public event, and other decision-making processes across UN operations.
The #NoManel campaign supports women’s representation as part of a move to ensure women representation in panels, conferences, meetings, and decision-making processes in the UN in Sierra Leone. Following the panel discussion, a “No Manel” Declaration was read by Babatunde Ahonsi, the UN Sierra Leone’s Resident Coordinator, Sètchémè Jéronime M. Mongbo, UN Women Sierra Leone Head of Office, and heads of lead agencies of all result areas in the UNCT. It was followed by the signing of a no manel pledge by all heads of agencies or their representatives present.
“We pledge to encourage and influence the inclusion of women and girls in speaking engagements in all public discussions, especially where women have not traditionally been part of the panel.”, said the UN Women Sierra Leone Head of Office, Sètchémè Jéronime M. Mongbo.
This pledge ensures the substantive representation of qualified women and girls in all United Nations-organised events and processes including, but not limited, to workshops, procurement and recruitment panels, and other decision-making panels. It is also a commitment to work actively to influence external stakeholders to intentionally include qualified women and girls in all their panels and processes, as they continue to strive to leave no one behind, and to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“We, members of the UN Country Team in Sierra Leone, pledge to say “NO” to all forms of male-only panels constituted by the United Nations.” declared Ahonsi, the UN resident coordinator.
“Manels” do not represent the diversity of our world and deprive us of a more holistic, innovative, and insightful perspective on any given discussion or topic. “Manels” are like tunnel vision: they limit the understanding of a topic for they only bring men’s perspectives to the discussion. They may lead to incomplete — if not incorrect — conclusions. There is no topic on earth that doesn’t concern women, whether it’s education or health or conflict or sanitation or infrastructure.
Still, there is no silver bullet, no quick fix. The phenomenon of ‘manels’ will not disappear overnight, but Sierra Leone’s UN system will have unquestionably raised the bar, increased the cost of neglecting women’s voices, generated greater public awareness, and created a multiplier effect towards normalizing gender-balanced public policy discourse.