- adopt Gender Model Family
By Mohamed Massaquoi in Kailahun
Paramount Chief Foray Gondor of Upper Bambara, Kailahun District
Twelve women councilors in the Kailahun District, east of Sierra Leone, have climaxed the 2013 commemoration of ‘16 Days of Activism’ with the official adoption of the ‘Gender Model Family’ as an antidote to poverty reduction, improved social relations and reduction in gender-based violence. The 16 Days of Activism is a global event aimed at reducing gender-based violence and the flagrant abuse of the rights of women.
SEND Sierra Leone and its partner Christian Aid have supported 12 women councilors to raise awareness on the effects of gender-based violence on the socio-economic and psychological wellbeing of victims and the society as a whole. The women councilors received one day training on gender concepts, gender-based violence and the rights of women facilitated by SEND Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
The purpose of the training was to equip the councilors with skills and knowledge on gender issues to be able to engage their communities to identify key violations and strategies to mitigate them. Each councilor received support to organize at least one town hall meeting bringing together chiefs, religious and opinion leaders, political parties, ward development committees, the youth and other interest groups in their respective wards. Over 600 people attended these sessions.
Gender-based violence, particularly wife battery, sexual exploitation and teenage pregnancy among school-going children, is still prevalent in almost all communities in the Kailahun District. The main causes identified for this menace are betrothal marriages and wife inheritance, poverty among married women, lack of punitive actions against perpetrators of violence and high illiteracy rate among women. Traditional and cultural practices exacerbate the low status of women and children in the society.
It is against this background that the women councilors have found the Gender Model Family (GMF) concept developed by SEND West Africa as the antidote to ending gender-based violence in the Kailahun District and Sierra Leone as a whole. The GMF is an arrangement that seeks to improve social relations through the equitable distribution of household chores among families and thus freeing women and girls to engage in income generation, community management roles and recreation.
Three awards were presented to three GMF from Luawa, Upper Bambara and Kissi Tongi chiefdoms by the women councilors, the Kailahun Women in Governance Network and SEND Sierra Leone for their respect and promotion of women’s rights within their households and communities at large.