Investing in Girls’ Rights

‘Safe Hand for Girls’ Sierra Leone has carried out several successful programmes across radio and television over the last few weeks campaigning against FGM.

The State Radio, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, was used as a hub to simulcast across all SLBC Regional Stations across the country with the theme of the year: “Invest in Girls Rights: Our Leadership and well-being”, aired on the International Day of the Girl Child, organized by UNICEF and Plan International. The 2023 event aims to unite adolescent girls with advocates for their rights, including UN leaders, NGOs, businesses, and governments. The program in Sierra Leone was moderated by a student from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.

Moderator: Aminata Iris Bangura – Student of Mass Communications – USL

A television programme was also aired on the same subject on The International Day of the Girl Child. Guests include anti-FGM activist Jorian Dumbuya and Gynacologist Dr. Mustapha Kanu.

Guest – Jorian Dumbuya – Anti FGM Activist

The programmes were a huge success for the campaigns against FGM, child marriage, teenage pregnancy and other harmful practices that impede the advancement of the girl child.

What was made clear, however, is the need for sustained action to make lasting change:

Sustainability is vital to the success of ending violence against women and girls in Sierra Leone.

Rev. Dr. Lucy-Ann Ganda

Despite the positive response from the public, there is still widespread criticism from those in favour of FGM. Many girls fear that without FGM, they will be considered dirty or impure, so continuous campaigning is needed to convince girls to give it up. Such campaigns must also still respect local culture; For example, the Bondo Society have explored ways to undergo girls’ initiation into society that doesn’t require them to be cut.

Shifting mentalities deeply set in local customs and traditions is extremely difficult. Therefore, the way forward is to constantly engage on the airwaves, and educate on the ills of these practices, using proof and testimonies of those survivors. That can only be done with sustainable funding.

With the availability of funds, the miracle to put an end to this age-long demonic practice in Sierra Leone and the sub-region will be a thing of the past.

Rev. Dr. Lucy-Ann Ganda – GMC Triple A activist