The private sector is a crucial partner in advancing gender equality, says Amujae Leader Dr. Yakama Manty Jones
The time to change the conversation around women’s economic empowerment and participation in decision-making processes has come, said Amujae Leader Dr. Yakama Manty Jones.
For Dr. Jones, a holistic approach is needed to develop gender-sensitive policies. This can only be done if women are included in decision-making spaces.
Speaking at the recent meeting, ‘Stakeholders’ Consultations on the Formulation of UN Women’s Strategic Directions 2023-2027,’ Dr. Jones—who serves as the Director of Research and Delivery at the Ministry of Finance in Sierra Leone—stressed that the power of the private sector must be leveraged to support government policies in favor of women’s economic participation.
In return, the private sector must give careful consideration to the role of women, “not only in the entrepreneurial space, but in all other spaces because a woman’s place is everywhere.”
Dr. Jones also argued that the private sector has a responsibility to develop goods and services that cater for the well-being of girls and women in every stage of their lives—from infancy to adulthood—thus improving their health, education, and professional prospects. Challenging businesses to create an enabling environment for women’s economic participation, she said:
“How are we making sure that we mainstream gender issues into our business approaches, and also making them inclusive so that we do not leave anybody behind?”
Urging the convened stakeholders to draw effective plans with clear milestones for achieving the UN Women strategic goals, she said:
“With [such plans] we can work toward a more equal world with women and girls empowered to reach their fullest potential, and we can be assured of success.”
Dr. Jones also emphasized the positive impact women’s participation in the labor force can have on economic growth as she participated in panel discussions around the rollout of the ECOWAS Regional Human Capital Development Strategy.
She described Sierra Leone’s human capital development as a cross-sectoral effort that leverages data, technology, innovation, and partnership, while focusing on gender equality in education:
“Human capital development is the first pillar of our medium-term national development plan, and the Free Quality School Education program is the government’s flagship program. We have attained gender parity at primary and junior secondary school education levels.”