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Landmark law to protect women’s rights in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has passed an historic law to improve women’s rights, including better employment rights.

Under the new Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act (GEWE) 30% of government and private sector jobs in the country are reserved for women, according to an official statement.

“Today is an historic day when Sierra Leone can rightly say it has legislation carefully designed to do away with gender inequality,” Gender Minister Manty Tarawalli said.

“Today is an important step in the right direction but more steps will have to be taken before the country can say fairness has been achieved across the genders,” she added.

Women will also now benefit from ringfenced senior positions in the workplace, at least 14-week-long maternity leave, equal access to bank credit and training opportunities.

There are harsh repercussions for employers who do not stick to the new gender ratios including hefty fines, and even potential prison time for financial institutions that do not give women fair access to financial support. It is thought this will make it easier for women to start their own businesses.

The government says the employment law will apply to any business with more than 25 employees.

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