Wednesday, 02 September 2015 00:00

Sierra Leone News: With funds from the Hamilton Family…SEND launches power to women campaign in Kailahun Featured

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A society that is responsive and responsible, cares for the private and public welfare of everyone. It ensures that the progress of men does not diminish that of women and that the progress of one woman does not diminish the progress of another woman” says Country Director of Social Enterprise Development (SEND) foundation, Joseph Ayamga.

He made this disclosure at the launching of the ‘Power to the Women’ campaign at the Youth Centre in Kailahun District, with funds from the Hamilton Family based in the United Kingdom through Christian Aid.

According to him, seven years ago, SEND Sierra Leone was funded by DFID through Christian Aid to promote women participation in political governance in the Kailahun District, which increased the number of women Councilors in the District Council from 11% to 41% in 2008 and 2012 respectively; and established the Kailahun Women in Governance Network (KWIGN) that mobilizes support for women empowerment.

“Despite the progress made, women continue to experience violence; discrimination and trauma across the country. We have more than 50% of Sierra Leoneans as women, however, according to the Agenda for Prosperity, women and men accounted for 11% and 89% of top government positions respectively as of 2013, and of the 456 district councillors, only 87 (19.1%) are women” he said.

Ayamga states that women wings of political parties have little influence over leadership and in strategic decision-making in the parties, and it is against this background, that SEND Sierra Leone with support from Christian Aid to consolidate and expand on the successes of 2012, decided to launch the phase II of the project titled, Power to Women, targeting the Kailahun women in Governance network (KWiGN), 46 junior secondary schools with over 10,000 students and the 12 women Councilors with the aim of strengthening the KWiGN, improve the organizational management of the network, improve the capacity of the network to advocate for women and girls and support 12 women councillors to combat gender based violence in schools.

Speaking on behalf of the women, the President of KWiGN, Lucy Gondor, maintained that since Kailahun begins everything, ‘we will be the first to mobilize our women to take the lead in their own development. We will also be the first to send that message to other women across the country that it is not a mistake to be a woman’.

She states that they have vowed to serve and promote the interest of women in the district and beyond, as they speak with one voice and fight for one goal, ‘a Sierra Leone where being a woman is not a barrier to her progress, where women are judged by their contributions and not because they are women, where we resolve our differences through dialogue and where men and women have equal opportunities.

Madam Lucy said they are bent on changing the minds of the world from the negative perception of women as weak and less productive, which is why they are advocating for resources, opportunities and social values to be equally available for women and me, explaining that our girls suffer from all sorts of violence at home and in schools but as a network, we will intensify our engagement and dialogue with school authorities and the Ministry of Education to pay attention to violence against girls in schools.

Speaking on behalf of the traditional leaders, PC Samuel Sheku Gibrilla maintained that it is about time they invest in their girls for development, as men are very productive but very selfish, which is why they should collaborate with the women for development.

Speaking on behalf of the donor partners, the Policy and Programme Manager of Christian Aid, Dr Steven Kaindeneh, disclosed that his organisation is proud of Kailahun because of their ability to initiate and implement projects, explaining that girls should be seen going to school and the authorities should ensure they put measures in place to discourage teenage pregnancy.

He maintained that Christian Aid will continue to look out for funding to support women in capacity building and ensuring they have a stake when it comes to governance issues.

By Alhaji M. Kamara

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