CCSL declares war on gender inequality

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March 27, 2019

By Yusufu S. Bangura

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CCSL General Secretary, Ebun James Dekam(L), CASL Country Manager, Jeanne Kamara(middle) and President of CCSL, Bishop John K Yambasu(R)

With support from Christian Aid Sierra Leone (CASL), the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) in collaboration with faith leaders has yesterday briefed the media on the launch of the Side by Side Faith Movement for Gender Justice in Sierra Leone, with the theme “Harnessing the collective voices of faith Actors for Gender Justice in Sierra Leone”.

The official launch will take place today (28 March) at the CASL Hall, CCSL compound King Herman Road in Freetown.

Speaking during the briefing, General Secretary of CCSL, Madam Ebun James Dakam, said the Side by Side Movement would be geared towards addressing issues pertaining to gender parity in line with best practice across the globe.

She said the main objective of the initiative was to obtain commitment from faith leaders, institutions and individuals of all orientations to advocate for, and address all manifestations of gender inequality in a coordinated and comprehensive way.

She added that the organization aimed at setting up an agenda and priorities for the Sierra Leone chapter, with an agreed set of principles, priorities and context, with specific action plans for advancing gender justice in Sierra Leone.

Madam James Dakam noted that the organization was founded in 2015 for religious leaders, traditional leaders and healers, to come together to fight violence against women and girls in Sierra Leone.

She noted that in 2018, they had 53 organizations that worked with the Side by Side Movement to promote the agenda of the organization.

She said they would support the people in all aspects of life, stating that everyone should feel free to do what he or she wanted to do, as long as he or she was doing what’s right.

She further that Sierra Leone is the only country that is enjoying religious tolerance, a development she said the nation should be proud about.

She said people do come from different countries to learn Sierra Leonean culture.

“I want to thank the religious leaders for bringing the communities together as that was their responsibility. Even during our civil war, we do not depart from it. And for every gathering, we must have Muslim and Christian prayers, so I want to thank God and let us continue to enjoy religious tolerance in Sierra Leone,” she said.
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She said their goal is to ensure that gender inequality should not be acceptable under any social, political, economic, religious or cultural circumstances.

CASL Country Manager, Jeanne Kamara, said the movement was pursuing transformational change for gender justice, and that they as people of faith and faith based organizations across the world, have committed to partnering together to challenge barriers to gender justice.

She said they believe that every being was made in the image of God and has intrinsic value and dignity, adding that they have taken a bold step to fight gender justice.

She said they acknowledged that religious teachings have often endorsed social and cultural norms that perpetuate gender injustice, and that people of faith and religious leaders have the responsibility to revisit sacred texts and promote faith values of love, dignity and gender justice.

She advised all religious leaders and traditional leaders not to put their attention much in the scriptures as Sierra Leoneans are blessed, thus adding that poverty was not ordained by God.

She observed that poverty in Sierra Leone is manmade, structural and is about inequality and revolves around gender and power.

 “We want to see that power relationship between men and women are equitable and all people, regardless of their gender exercise agency and their race.They should have autonomy over their own bodies. We also want to see social, political and economic development outcomes are gender equitable and we want gender based violence eliminated,” she said.

She said their vision was to see that all people are free from cultural and interpersonal systems of privilege and oppression, and from violence and repression rooted in gender inequality.

Speaking during the endorsement of the Side by Side movement, Bishop John K.Yambasu, President of CCSL, promised to work with the organization to fight gender justice in Sierra Leone.

Head of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Sacedu Rahman Amir, said they would support the movement with psychological, financial and with any assistant they might need from Muslim Jamaat.