She made this remark while chairing the opening session of a three-day workshop under the theme ‘Women on the Move’ which is organized by CARE Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone VSLA Working Group at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles warned that women’s empowerment should not be limited to political appointments, the beneficiaries of which are educated women who are seen as privileged and constitute a very small percentage of women in the country.
‘The empowerment of women should not be bias in favour of one set of people, it should be done across the board and most importantly priority should be given to poor and marginalized women who are the most disadvantaged,’ she said.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles praised ordinary women as the unsung heroes of the home. ‘They carry the burden of the home by providing for the upkeep of the family and catering for the educational needs of the children but their efforts are not recognized,’ she said. ‘At the Legal Aid Board, we see evidence of this on a daily as fathers are content with leaving the welfare of the children wholly in the hands of their mothers.’
She noted that assisting these women with access to loans with low interest coupled with training on managing their businesses and finances. This will make a world of difference in their lives and by extension national development.
She called of the Government to come up with policies and initiatives to protect women who are being criminalized for failing to repay loans. She said that many of the women were not properly educated on the loan conditions.
The keynote addressed was delivered by the Minister of Development and Economic Planning, Mrs. Nabeela Tunis who also performed the formal launch of the workshop. Mrs. Tunis said when women are excluded the family and the nation suffers. She said the Government is committed to the economic empowerment of women by promoting saving groups, gender equality and the inclusion of women at all levels of governance.
Other speakers include the Deputy Minister of Finance, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, the country Director of CARE, the Deputy CEO of Standard Chartered Bank and representatives of the Ministries of Trade and Industry and Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and Action Aid Sierra Leone.