Sierra Leone: MSWGCA & Partners Launch 16 Days of Activism

By Stephen V. Lansana

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) in collaboration with partners on Friday November 25 launched 16 days of activism against gender based violence with the theme, “Orange the World, Raise Funds to End Violence Against Women.”

In her statement on behalf of the 14 Irish Gender- based Violence Consortium, Nafisatu Jalloh, Senior Gender Advisor, Embassy of Ireland, said the 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls is an international awareness raising campaign that takes place every year from November 25 (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10th (the International Human Rights Day).

She stated that the period also includes the Universal Children’s Day, World AIDS Day (December 1) and World Disability Day (December 3). She said the consortium in collaboration with MSWGCA is going to organize a dialogue forum on December 6 with the aim of opening up discussions between government and key stakeholders on increasing funding to institutions that provide services to survivors of gender- based violence in Sierra Leone.

She said on December 6 the consortium will call on government, the private sector, the United Nations and bilateral donors to increase funding to address the issue of gender- based violence in the country. “We call on the Ministry of Finance to increase the allocation of funds to MSWGCA so that it will be able to implement its huge mandate to the Ministry of Health to provide free health care services for survivors of sexual violence as stated in Section 39 of the Sexual Offences Act, and to the Ministry of Education to include comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights as a stand-alone subject in the national curriculum.

In her opening remarks, the Deputy Minister of Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA), Rugiatu Neneh Turay, said that the public can support the campaign by wearing orange colour during the 16-day period. “Orange is associated with joy, warmth, heat, sunshine, enthusiasm, creativity, success, encouragement, change, determination, health, stimulation, happiness, fun, enjoyment, balance, sexuality, freedom of expression and fascination,” she said, adding that wearing orange is a commitment to never commit or condone violence against women and children.

Bondu Manyeh, National President of YWCA/ SL said that the 16-day of activism is a period during which they are crying out together as women and girls to stop rape, domestic violence, marginalization and intimidation of women and girls in the country and the world at large.