Culture, Politics and Society in Sierra Leone
Chapter 10: Women’s Agency and the Institutionalisation of Interventions Against Gender Violence and Discrimination Against Women
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Women’s Agency and the Institutionalisation of Interventions Against Gender Violence and Discrimination Against Women
The institutional approaches to promote the empowerment of women (EoW), and combat violence against women and girls (VAWG) and discrimination against women (DAW) are constitutively framed by the government, mostly after intense international pressures, and case-managed by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA). This chapter explores the origin and contributions of the MSWGCA in the fight for EoW and to end VAWG and DAW, including the social dynamics of the everyday that shape behaviours and discourses around women generally, through the construction and implementation of institutionalised rules, norms and policies.
There are three intertwined variables that give the MSWGCA its legitimacy and justification for its duty-of-care approach in promoting the EoW and in combating VAWG and DAW. The first is the co-constitutive way in which it shapes behaviour at the grassroots level as a means of changing the political dynamics at the top. The attempt to teach a nation that was oblivious to the meaning of gender equality and women’s empowerment, and indifferent to the consequences of VAWG and DAW, did not come without political tensions. The establishment of an institution to mainstream women’s individual concerns into governmental policies was an attempt to offset the political status quo. Though still in the process of becoming effective, its institutionalised ‘duty-of-care’ approach to issues of concern for women is about contesting for...
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