The Sierra Leone Red Cross Society with support from British Red Cross has launched sixteen days activism to fight gender based violence against women and girls. The event took place on November 25th 2023 at the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society headquarters in Freetown. The activism is an annual event that starts from November 25th and ends on December 10th.
Speaking to the press, Program Coordinator for the Integrated Resilience Program Mrs. Lois Simche Lebbie said that Sierra Leone Red Cross Society will collaborate with other organizations and gender activists to fight violence against women and girls. She pointed out that even though the Sierra Leone Red Cross society is known for disaster management yet they intend to embark on other programs including prevention, gender inclusion and Integrated Resilience. The Ingratiated Resilience program is geared towards fighting violence against women and girls.
Madam Lebbie went on to inform that the organization has trained many young people who are now agents of change. These young people she said are now in turn educating people on the dangers of gender based violence against women in different communities. The agents of change are now the voices of change in their communities to advocate against gender based violence, she asserted.
She continued that they will organize different activities like community engagements, football galas, drama skits etc. in the twelve communities they are operating and urged men, especially youths, to join in the fight against any form of violence against women and girls.
The Director of Program Sierra Leone Red Cross Society Yusufu Kamara said his organization is committed to eliminating gender based violence. “My organization is leading in the fight against gender based violence and we are leading by example,’’ he said. He informed the press that they have women in prominent positions and that had helped to promote gender equality in the workspace.
He said that Red Cross Sierra Leone will champion the 16 days of activism to educate the public on the dangers of gender based violence in Sierra Leone.
Speaking at the event Duray kamara, a representative from the Susan’s Bay community thanked the Sierra Leone Red Cross for educating them about the dangers of violence against women. He maintained that the initiative has created a huge impact in the society in which before now women and young girls were subjected to gender based violence. He further disclosed that Sierra Leone Red Cross has helped to educate leaders in his community on how to fight violence against women and young girls. Leaders in his community were now educating men and young boys not to make women and young girls feel disadvantaged.
‘’We would be organizing comedy programs centered around gender based violence against women and girls in order to educate men, both young and old, about the dangers of violence in society,” he said.
On his part, the Assistant Director of Ministry of Gender Bamie J. Sesay described the 16 days of activism as a good venture that has the propensity to amplify the voices of victims of gender based violence.
‘’It is time to take concrete actions and mobilize communities in the fight against violence because government cannot do all by itself,” he said. He lamented over the culture of silence which he says help to promote violence against women and girls. He described gender based violence as bad in any society and called on everyone to take concrete actions in addressing the said issue.
He went on to point out that government has enacted laws to empower and protect women and girls against abuse and called on stakeholders in the corporate world to promote gender inclusion in the workplace. He mentioned that the country would only succeed in the fight against gender based violence if the homes lead the fight.
‘The involvement of men and boys in the collaboration process is key because they are perpetrators of violence against women and girls,’ he reiterated. He said that coordination and collaboration effectively help in addressing gender based violence adding that community dialogue will also help to convey the correct messages to various communities. He ended by stressing that partnership is important in the fight and urged community leaders to use various medium to communicate the right messages.