Sierra Leone’s president has approved a new law mandating women get equal pay and hold at least 30% of positions in government, as well as decision-making roles in both public and private jobs.
The law extends maternity leave from 12 weeks to 14 weeks and ensures women have equal access to training and credit and financial services.
Under the law, companies will be required to submit an annual report about its gender equality efforts.
Those found violating the law could be fined or even face prison time.
“The future of Sierra Leone is female,” President Julius Maada Bio said. “Empowering women is essential to the health and social development of families, communities and countries.”
Sierra Leone ranks one of the lowest in the world in gender equality, placing 182 out of 189 countries in the UN’s 2020 Gender Development Index.
Women face high levels of sexual violence, and the country has one of the world’s highest rates of teen pregnancy.
Currently, only 12% of parliamentarians and 17% of cabinet ministers are women.