Since 2019, the European Union has funded projects to prevent and support the fight against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against women and girls in Sierra Leone. Grounded on a community-based approach, these projects focus on prevention, protection, and pathways to support victims and survivors of Sexual and Gender-based violence.
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Sierra Leone
More than half of adult women in Sierra Leone (62%) have experienced sex and gender-based violence (SGBV), the United Nations Population Fund reported in 2019. Since then, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened concerns about gender-based violence and abuses perpetrated against women and girls, sparking a new response from Sierra Leone’s local authorities, national leaders, and global partners.
Ministry of Social Welfare sector Head Alhaji Mansaray stated, “We value the EU training on gender-based violence very highly. It has contributed to reducing the culture of silence and compromise, increasing public knowledge of gender-based violence, and creating a safer and better society for women in Pujehun District.”
In Pujehun, students and teachers are being sensitized against harmful language and attitudes, with the ultimate goal of a safer society for everyone. To date, over 3,000 students and staff have received training in communities with alarming rates of sexual and gender-based violence. With the EU’s financial contributions, the Local Councils are providing the required logistics and expertise and engaging community stakeholders and local authorities, which has created greater awareness and understanding of the harm caused by SGBV to their community members.
“If you are unaware of your rights, you cannot claim them. The training gave us a chance to comprehend the problems with gender-based violence and enhance the position of women in that area.”, Alhaji Mansaray, added.
This initiative with local councils has resulted in the revitalization of women and child protection services in the communities while significantly helping to address critical issues of protecting the rights of women, girls and children that are disproportionately affected by the social malaise; and fostering a collaborative approach between CSOs, local authorities and community people in the fight against SBGV.