By Yusufu S. Bangura
Assistant Director at the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs, Anita Esther Momoh has told journalists and tricycle riders that they wanted to end violence against women and girls.
She made the above statement on Saturday 10th December during the end of the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV).
To mark the end the 16 days of activism, the ministry organised a float parade which started at Cotton Tree and ended at the Siaka Steven Stadium in Freetown where 80 tricycle riders were targeted to preach against GBV.
The theme for this year’s celebration was ‘Unite! Activism to end violence against women and girls.’
“We are sending messages out there for people to end violence against women and girls, to end rape against women, to end the traditional norms we have over the years when it comes to women and girls. We also want to see our Keke riders as male champions campaigning against gender issues,” she said.
She said with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) they engaged the tricycle riders to commemorate the 16 days of activism which started on 25th November and ended 10th December, for the elimination of violence against women and girls over the year.
Madam Momoh said the 16 Days of Activism campaign provides an important platform each year to focus the world’s attention on their common goal of ending violence against women and girls.
“With funding from UNFPA, we thought it fit to engage our men when it comes to Gender Based Violence because most of the times they are saying that gender issues are only for women. And it is against that backdrop we engaged them to change the narrative,” she said.
She continued that tricycle riders are some of the people that have been left behind when it comes to campaign issues, so as a ministry they don’t want to leave anyone behind, thus they have urged the riders to take the non-violence messages to their various communities.
She further said they conducted three-day training for riders across the country on gender and sexual based violation because there was need for them to engage the riders when it comes to violation as most of them didn’t know the law.
She added that the ministry found out that people are mostly not aware that they violate the law because they don’t have knowledge about GBV issues; therefore they trained them to build their capacity on gender issues for them to carry the correct messages.
Speaking on behalf of tricycle riders, Central District Chairman for the riders, Alhaji S. Kamara, thanked his colleagues for being part of the float parade which was an important event for them because they too wanted to preach about gender based violence.
He further advised them not to use violence against women and girls and asked them to implement what they have learnt from the three days training so that they will not come into conflict with the law.
“I want all men to know that women are our mothers, sisters and wives, so we should not use violence against them. But rather we should always respect them no matter the condition they found themselves. I am also calling on everyone to play their role in ending violence against women and girls, show support and solidarity to women’s rights activists and to resist the rollback on women’s rights,” he said.