By: Jusufu Gamanga Abu, Messenger in Kenema.
A Girl At A Time in partnership with Wi Gial Pekin Dem Foundation and Senava Project in Sierra Leone held a two-day EndFGM during Covid19 Awareness Workshop in Hangha, Kenema, Eastern Providence, Sierra Leone.
The two-day workshop was held on the 3th to the 4th October 2020 in Hangha, Kenema was funding by the Five Foundation the Global Partnership to End FGM, a non-profit work to raise the issue of FGM on the international agenda and re-grant funding to grassroots organizations working to end FGM.
The workshop aims was to engaged parents and young girls at Hangha community in Kenema to dialogue on issues affecting the progress of girls and women in their communities and the Country as a whole and how best to prevent harmful practices such as FGM and child marriage during a pandemic.
Violence against women and girls is deeply rooted in gender-based discrimination underpinned by inequalities especially in the area Hangha were most girls are affected social norms and gender stereotypes that perpetuate such violence.
Given the devastating effects and health risks associated with FGM and other forms of violence on young girls the workshop focused on ways parents and teachers can protect girls at risk and survivors of FGM. The activities were design to discuss FGM and COVID prevention.
The two days session was facilitated by the following including the Co-founder & Executive Director for Wonders of Salone Limited, Liz Kaima, the Founder of We Gial Pekin Dem Foundation, Jalahan Amara Jakema with A Girl At A Time and the district social mobilization coordinator for HDMT, who also doubled up as the risk communications lead for COVID 19 response for Kenema district, Francis Suma.
Alimatu Dimonekene Founder of A Girl At A Time said to our reporter that “such activities’ in such communities was vital in how parents are supported and encouraged in protecting their own daughters during the COVID9 pandemic.”
Alimatu also said that “such delicate work would not have been possible without the support of The Five Foundation”.
She went on to say that “The best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its root and structural causes. This was evident in what was the backdrop to the theme of this engagement aptly tagged as “Helping and Supporting Parent to Protect their Girls”.
Day one of the workshop ended on a high with a capacity building of older teen participants with image issues and knowledge on gender-based violence and innovative ways of preventing such a menace in their communities.
Day Two of the workshop topics covered by Jalahan Amara Jakema Founder of Wi Gial Pekin the host organization included protecting girls from Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Female Genital Mutilation (FMG), Social Media as a platform for Sexual Base violence, Parent commitment in ensuring a brighter future for their children, COVID 19 best practice among children.
Jalahan said “the work of her organization Wi Gial Pekin Dem Foundation in delivering such workshop was so crucial given their long standing relationship with the communities played an important role in the engagement program and design of the workshop.”
Furthermore our reporter spoke with Liz Kaima founder of the Seneva Project also based in Kenema who “highlighted the importance of taking into consideration the mental health and wellbeing of the girl at risk of FGM and child marriage and the impotence of programs such as the workshop strengthens the emotions and whilst boosting the confidence of girls in such communities.”
Liz also said “that she was very pleased and encouraged by the efforts of the community themselves and the community leaders in showing leadership through the two days sessions.”
Throughout the activities most of the participants whose ages ranged from 10 years to 16 years old girls were fully engaged with the organization and also express their satisfaction in attending the workshops days before returning to school.
We spoke to several of the participants who all agreed that the workshop has indeed increased their knowledge and awareness about FGM and gender based violence and even though they are children they are happy to see adults who care about their wellbeing and are saying no to FGM in their community. .