British High Commission, Purposeful launch Programme to tackle Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

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The British High Commission and Purposeful have, on the 10th October, celebrated International Day of the Girl by launching a new UK-funded programme, dedicated to supporting Sierra Leone’s girls and local women’s rights organisations.

The programme commits £650,000 over three years to provide multi-year, flexible grants and capacity building through Purposeful’s Survivor Solidarity Fund set up to tackle rape culture at its root and finance a vision for a new world where Sierra Leonean women and girls are living in safety, dignity and freedom..

The new programme, known as “MOVE”, will support efforts to resource and strengthen the women’s rights movement in Sierra Leone, in particular organisations working to tackle sexual and gender-based violence. By layering small-grants with accompanying support, convening, and coalition building from Purposeful, this approach will help to strengthen individual groups and the broader women’s rights movement.

Research shows that feminist and women-led movements are the most important factor in securing lasting change for gender equality, and girls’ activism has always been part of this. However, often these grassroots movements and services have been underfunded. This programme will shift resources and decision-making power to women and girls, supporting both registered organisations and unregistered girls’ groups to tackle sexual and gender-based violence.

Girls are the experts on their own lives. Engaging them on decisions that affect them, their families, and their communities is an important part of designing effective solutions. With Purposeful, the UK is committed to engaging with girls and shifting power to them as changemakers and future leaders. Protecting and promoting the rights, freedoms, and potential of girls in Sierra Leone and around the world is the right and the smart thing to do.

The official launch of the ‘’MOVE’’ Programme brought together civil society, activists, development partners, INGOs, and government officials, to celebrate the new partnership between Purposeful and the British High Commission and discuss the programme approach with stakeholders. The event was hosted by Josephine Kamara, Head of Media and Communications at Purposeful, and featured spoken word performances by Adeola Carew, a multiple award-winning writer, poet, and activist standing up for sexual rights and freedoms.

In her opening remarks, the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa  Chesney, MBE, warmly welcomed guests and stated that the UK remains committed to supporting Sierra Leone’s development and that girls have always been, and will continue to be, at the heart of this. She noted that the MOVE programme will help the British High Commission meet the ambition set out in the UK’s International Women and Girls Strategy. The High Commissioner said that the programme “isn’t just about new funding, but about doing things differently” and that the UK was “committed to taking a more locally-led approach and to shifting power to women and girls”.

Aminata Kamara, Co-Lead for Resourcing Resistance at Purposeful,mentioned that philanthropy and the funding ecosystem take a lot of risks with adults and established organisations but use the narrative of risk as an excuse for not funding girls and young people. ‘’We are excited that FCDO and the British High Commission are willing to take this risk and journey with us to see what happens when girls and young artists are trusted with resources to take action and find solutions to their issues. Girls are experts in their lived realities and are the best agents to create change and recommend solutions to take action in solving them. Trust them with flexible resources to continue the existing work and movement needs and not create new work.’’ She said. 

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