The World BrieflyJanuary 24, 2023
Equality by Fiat
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Sierra Leone passed a law that would require public and private entities to allocate 30 percent of their jobs to women, a move aimed at tackling the gender imbalance in the West African nation, Radio France Internationale reported.
The new Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act requires employers to also ensure the 30 percent quota applies to management roles. In addition, it gives women at least 14 weeks of maternity leave, equal pay, and training opportunities.
The quota also applies to the 146-seat parliament and the civil service. At the same time, the legislation also aims to ameliorate women’s access to finance in a country where they have often been unable to obtain credit.
Employers failing to abide by these new rules could face fines of up to $2,600, a large sum in one of the poorest countries in the world.
President Julius Maada Bio said the law would “address the gender imbalances in this country comprehensively.” He added that it will help tackle the issue of violence against women.
Human rights organizations said women face steep barriers professionally in Sierra Leone, adding that it is common for employers to fire pregnant women.
They added that the country has a high rate of sexual assault, owing in part to the use of rape as a weapon during the 1991-2002 civil war.
Meanwhile, Sierra Leonean women are also poorly represented in politics: There are only 18 female lawmakers in parliament – and only four members of Bio’s 32-member cabinet are women.
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