The Women’s Forum-Sierra Leone (WF-SL), the national umbrella organisation for all women’s organizations in Sierra Leone, ended a two-day capacity-building workshop for 30 participants drawn from various youth groups and communities in the Western Area Rural and Urban as the facilitators underscored that Sierra Leoneans are emotionally attached and that parents have an important role to play to change the attitude of people.
The workshop took place at the Council of Churches Hall on King Harman Road in Freetown.
Among the action points, participants unanimously resolved to disseminate the knowledge gained in their respective communities, advocate and lobby for development projects like schools and health centers, promote women and girls’ empowerment and end violence against women and girls.
They also pledged to network with similar groups/organisations to promote women and girls empowerment, peace, gender rights and development.
The ‘SHE LEADS’ project, sponsored by the African Women’s Development Communication Network (FEMNET), is to tap the rich potentials of young girls and women at all levels for which participants were urged to be attentive and make salient contributions to accurately and effectively disseminate the knowledge gained in their communities.
In West Africa, Liberia, Ghana, Mali, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya are members of the FEMNET network consortium.
The 5-year ‘SHE LEADS’ project, being implemented by Plan International, Defense for Children and Women’s Forum-SL, saw participants drawn from esteem youth groups in Goderich, Hamilton, the Mano River Women Peace Network (MARWOPNET) and Adonkia.
The project was officially launched in Port Loko District in July this year while the community engagement has been organized for the Western Area Rural.
The National Coordinator of the ‘SHE LEADS’ project and facilitator at the workshop, Hawa Mansaray enlightened that FEMNET is a Pan-African, feminist and membership-based network in Nairobi, Kenya with over 800 members in 48 African countries adding that Women’s Forum Sierra Leone has been a member of the network for almost six years now.
She continued that the vision of FEMNET is an African society where gender equality is achieved and women and girls enjoy all rights and live in dignity.
Addressing participants, the President of Women’s Forum, Sallay Adams revealed that the 5-year project was initiated in Kenya after their recent visit for the voices of young girls and women to be heard as well as reduce/end sexual and gender-based violence, traditional and cultural practices citing the non-election of women as Paramount Chiefs in some parts of the country and revealed that the project would be implemented in Port Loko, Magburaka and the Western Area Rural and Urban.
She furthered that Sierra Leone is a male-dominated country, that Africans are bonded, that change is not automatic but a gradual process and appealed to the participants to network, lobby and advocate for girls empowerment in their various communities articulating that they must understand an individual before attempting to change him/her positively.
Mrs. Adams also highlighted that the project is to bring out the undervalue potentials of young girls and women underlining that when you educate a man you educate an individual but that when you educate a women you educate the nation.
According to the President of the WF-SL, the ‘SHE LEADS’ project that ends in 2025 is for the voices of women and girls to be heard on gender issues, for them to be included in the preparation of bills and laws affecting women and girls as well as for them to be involved in the decision-making process intimating that they are working with the government of Sierra Leone, civil society organizations and various communities and underscored that no country can develop without women as they are equal partners in development.
She also emphasized that the major work for the participants at the end of the workshop is to sensitize others in their respective communities on the knowledge gained, that the workshop is the beginning of more workshops to be conducted by Women’s Forum for effective implementation of the project.
Earlier, the Public Relations Officer of WF-SL, Tiana Alpha reiterated that the workshop is to promote girls and women’s empowerment, that women want more space as men in national development and the decision-making process, urged the girls not to be shy to speak out, especially on issues affecting them as well as have confidence in themselves affirming that they must use their voices for positive change and women’s empowerment and equality between girls and boys as girls too are likewise competent.
The closing remarks were done by the consultant for the project, Mr. Mohamed Konneh who reiterated that participants should replicate the knowledge gained in their respective communities.
Other topics discussed were an overview of the ‘SHE LEADS’ Project, the Meaning of Psychology, Key Features of the African Personality, Phsycho-Analysis, Characteristics Personality Features of GYM Groups, Communication and Leadership by Mrs. Maude Regina Peacock, immediate Past President of the Forum, Life Skills, Advocacy, Lobbying, Networking, Action Plan and Post Testing by Mrs. Julia Bockarie Bahn and Cecilia Bangura respectively.
Highlights of the workshop included writing of poems, drawings, test questions, role play, the question and answer session, singing of the Women’s Forum song and the expectations of the participants at the end of the workshop.