*Magbauraka, Tonkolili District,*
*12th December 2023*
The National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) has concluded a three-day regional consultation and awareness raising on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) related risks, policies, and referral pathways. Partners in the consultation included the Ministry of Gender and Children's Affairs, the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues, local authorities, and numerous others.
The regional consultation aimed to raise awareness of the risks associated with GBV and how national policies on sexual and GBV support and direct efforts to mitigate these risks. This is to empower women and girls in all targeted communities. The end product is to foster knowledge on effective pathways for survivor referral, which will have a long-term impact on the decrease of GBV/SH and ultimately support the development of a more impartial and safe society for all.
Speaking during the session, the Social Development Specialist for NaCSA, Md. Isatta Blake noted that *‘’Gender-based violence against women is a critical issue that affects countless lives globally. High-profile women, communities and organizations have raised their voices to address this urgent concern. It includes acts that cause physical, sexual, or psychological harm to women, whether in public or private life. The international community recognizes that violence against women violates their rights and freedoms, and efforts are ongoing to eradicate it.’’* She narrated.
Isatta called on participants to be agents of change and ensure that the appropriate community and local actions are taken to end GBV. *‘’…through the Productive Social Safety Nets and Youth Employment (PSSNYE) Project, NaCSA with support from the Government of Sierra Leone, the World Bank and UNICEF has committed to contribute to the fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. This engagement is a critical part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. An annual international campaign that commences on 25 November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and continues until 10 December, which is Human Rights Day.’’* She ended.
The Director of Programmes from NaCSA – Regina Saffa reiterated the need for all community and institutional representatives to better understand the critical concepts associated with GBV. She noted that the fight against GBV requires collective and uncompromising efforts.
With this angle, Dr Susan Robert, the Senior Director of Programme Development and Quality Assurance (SD-PDQA) delivered a statement that gingers women, girls, persons with disability and community leaders to see women’s empowerment as a necessary actor for community and national development.
Using her life journey to inspire those present, Dr Robert noted as a country, *‘’we have made progress in eliminating some of the barriers that prevent women’s and girl’s empowerment’’*. She ended by calling on the women and girls to take advantage of the Free Quality School Education and other initiatives instituted by the government.
The consultation brought together Paramount Chiefs, regional and district representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Ministry of Health, One Stop Centers/ Rainbow Initiatives, Mammy Queen women’s leaders and youth Leaders from different communities.
The consultation was climaxed with a surprising visit by the persons with the disability community in the Tonkolili district. They expressed to the government and donor partners for the COVID-19 Social Safety Nets and the Emergency Cash Transfers intervention. They further call on authorities to increase the size of persons with a disability receiving the transfers and other government interventions.
*For further information on this and other matters, please contact:*
*The Information, Education and Communication Unit*