Send Sierra Leone hosts new Irish Embassy’s Development Head

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Social Enterprise Development (SEND Sierra Leone) has hosted Caroll Hannon, the new Head of Development for the Irish Embassy in Sierra Leone.

The two-day working visit lasted from the 15th and 16th of September 2022 at the organization’s headquarters in Kenema.

The visit was geared towards learning from the organisation’s development work, especially on women empowerment in the Eastern Region and other parts of the country.

SEND Sierra Leone is a strong partner of the Irish Aid, empowering women in the country through “The More Than A Woman” (MTAW) project. The project is strengthening the participation of women in governance, politics, and decision-making at all levels.

It also promotes equality for men and women and reduces gender discrimination in domestic and control systems and processes.  SEND Sierra Leone, through the project, has established and supported Women and young women networks, Men for Women groups, Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), and also found the Nyapui Radio to amplify the voices of women.

Irish Aid supports SEND in implementing the project in 4 districts Kenema, Kailahun, Kono, and Bonthe) but also works in Freetown to increase policy influence at the national level to achieve more gender equality and empowerment.

Caroll Hannon’s visit to SEND allowed her to learn about the various strategies the organisation has been using to empower women in politics, governance, and other decision-making spaces.

In achieving this, SEND organised two interactive meetings for the Irish Diplomat to meet with staff members of the organisation and women groups from various parts of the country.

During the learning meeting with staff members of the organisation, Brima Mansaray, the Project Manager for the More Than A Woman project, catalogued several strategies used by the organisation in empowering women to attain positions at all levels of decision-making processes, including interfacing women with political parties.

Key results achieved by the organisation in increasing the representation in Parliament and local councils were also highlighted, including the organisation’s contributions to attaining the 40% quota of female representation in Parliament from Kailahun, which remains the first district to have achieved such a political milestone; the organisation’s role to ensuring that Kono District has its first female Member of Parliament ever in its history.

Mansaray said the organization has also contributed to the increased number of female council or councillors in the Eastern Region, established the Nyapui Radio which now serves as a platform for amplifying the voices of women in the region, established financial services (credit unions) for providing loan facilities to rural poor women and other interest groups at a cost-effective interest rate of only 3% on all loans, and the establishment of Women and Young Women in Governance Networks among others.

After the SEND Sierra Leone presentation, Caroll thanked the organisation for its selfless work over the years in ensuring that women’s voices are heard and counted within the country’s political realm.

She noted that even though she had just spent two months in the country, she had been informed and read a lot about what the organisation has been doing, especially in empowering women.

She said that it was because of those reasons that she chose to visit the organisation to see and get a feel of how it has helped women in the country.

The new Irish Diplomat, who has only made her first provincial trip to Kenema since she arrived in Sierra Leone, expressed delight over the organisation’s women empowerment strategies.

She appreciated the various structural establishments done by the organisation with a critical focus on the establishment of Nyapui Radio for women and girls and the formation of the Young Women in Governance Networks which serves as an early platform to prepare the mindset of young women to take leadership positions and meaningfully contribute to national development.

In her quest to know more about the various approaches used by the organisation, the Irish Diplomat asked some questions, and staff members provided responses accordingly. She ended the day one meeting with a tour of the organisation’s facilities and later attended a dinner to interact with women groups. 

On the following day, 16th September 2022, a grand meeting of over 100 hundred women was held, including local authorities, women groups, Members of Parliament, councillors, Elections Management Bodies (ECSL and PPRC), and staff of SEND Sierra Leone, was held at Nyapui School of Excellence Hall in Combema, Kenema.

During the meeting, women and other district stakeholders shared their experiences and challenges, including those challenges within their political parties, society, and the family.

Following the sharing of experiences and challenges by the women, the Irish diplomat acquired hands-on experience on the achievements and challenges women had gone through and still going through in their political journeys.

Given the context of the engagement, the Country Director of SEND Sierra Leone, Joseph Ayamga, said the organisation converged various women groups from the North, North-West, Western Area, South, and the Eastern region into a single platform to share their experiences, understand the different dynamics and issues affecting women and in turn for them to educate their people in the respective districts and regions.

Ayamga expressed his thanks to the Irish Embassy, the Head of Development, for her interest in knowing the experiences of women suffering from societal patriarchal dominance. “Development is a public good, not private, the development of women is a public good that requires all and sundry to contribute to its achievement collectively”, he noted.

Making her statement, the Irish diplomat said she was happy with what she saw and that she had acquired so much from her interaction with staff members of SEND and the different women groups.

“Today, I came here to learn and have learned a lot. Empowering women and Girls is essential in Irish Embassy’s work, and I feel fulfilled with what I have learned”, she said.

She thanked SEND Sierra Leone, especially the Country Director, for the organisation’s work in promoting women’s right to participate in politics and decision-making processes.


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