Rubbish dumps are a breeding ground for mosquitoes, Sierra Leone has one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates, 70% of these deaths are caused by Malaria.
THE RUBBISH PROBLEM
Freetown’s towering dumps of rubbish, broken glass and rotting food are not only breeding grounds for mosquitoes, bu provide an livelihood for some of Sierra Leone’s poorest people. Picking through the often hazardous waste, children as young as ten spend their days searching of food and things to sell. With 87% of the population without access to a safe toilet, the public health challanges are enormous.
CHOLERA AND MALARIA
With piles of festering uncollected rubbish in many major cities, cholera and malaria are prevalent. In 2012, 12 of Sierra leone’s 13 districts reported the worst Cholera outbreaks for 15 years with almost 20,000 cases. Malaria is “hyper endemic” and one of the major killers of children under five while the Ebola epidemic coninues to threaten the country.
ADVOCATING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE
in xxxx, we created a sustainable waste projectto address this rubbish problem at its source. This includes maximum waste recovery by composting, recycling, and reuse, and aims at zero waste to be disposed onto dump-yards and landfills. More specifically, by using composting methods to manage the biodegradable waste, the project aims to:
TRANSFORMING TRASH INTO POTENTIAL
The objective of this project was to reduce environmental degradation caused by solid waste through Sustainable Waste Management (SWM). This included maximum waste recovery by composting, recycling, and reuse, and aimed at zero waste to be disposed onto dump-yards and landfills.
More specifically, by using composting methods to manage the biodegradable waste, the project aims to minimise the amount of waste that needs to be disposed in centralized landfills, thus extending existing landfill capacity.
In addition, the project helped to reduce the environmental impact of disposal sites as the bio-degradable waste fraction largely is to blame for the polluting leachate and the methane problems;
The soil also benefitted as organic agriculture practices were promoted and local farmers were trained on the use of organic compost instead of chemical fertilisers;A fuel-briquette making enterprise was also established using simple technologies available in communities to generate income for women and school dropouts.
“More girls should play football as it helps keep us fit and helps to promote gender equality”
- Halimatu Mansary, Southern Queens Captain
Life is tough for Sierra Leone’s girls, 44% are married before their 18 birthday with many dropping out of school when they become pregnant With many families ripped apart by the civil war, young women struggle to support younger siblings often resorting to transactional sex to make ends meet.Life is tough for Sierra Leone’s girls, 44% are married before their 18 birthday with many dropping out of school when they become pregnant With many families ripped apart by the civil war, young women struggle to support
EDUCATION AS POWER
With little money, families may only be able to send one child to school and often choose a son for the privilege of education.Yet staying in school helps helps girls avoid early marriage and…With little money, families may only be able to send one child to school and often choose a son for the privilege of education.Yet staying in school helps helps girls avoid early marriage and…With little money, families may only be able to send one child to school and often choose a son for the privilege of education.
NOT JUST FOR THE BOYS
Football is a national obsession in Sierra Leone and not just fort he boys. From kicking a ball in the red dust to crowding round a television watching the British premier league there, football is everywhere. Through our Empower Educate Esteem project we have harassed this passion for football to offer younf women scholarships an training.Football is a national obsession in Sierra Leone and not just fort he boys. From kicking a ball in the red dust to crowding round a television watching the British premier
EMPOWER- EDUCATE- ESTEEM- DEVELOPMENT THROUGH SPORT
In response to the challenges faced by young women in Sierra Leone and their rapidly growing participation in organized football, Advocate Plus intends expand its pilot project (in Bo City) to the other major urban centres in Sierra Leone. The project aims to support young female football players to gain leadership, life skills and complete their secondary school education.
The main project activities include: establishment of a Girls Soccer League; promotion of positive encouragement through training of coaches, pairing team leaders with mentors in theircommunity, training in leadership and life skills development, sexual and reproductive health education and supporting girls to stay in school by providing tutoring for academic support and secondary school scholarships for exceptional participants.
In Sierra Leone, teenage girls are faced with many challenges that inhibit them from completing their education. Without their secondary school education, young women are likely to be unemployed, have untimely pregnancies, become victims of sexual exploitation and continue in the cycle of poverty that plagues the country.
Education transforms the lives of young women. As Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone, states:
“Change is possible. Girls hold the key to a society without poverty. With the right skills they can invest in themselves, and later in their families. If they are able to stay in school, postpone marriage and build their capacity, they will have more time to prepare for adulthood.”
Although well-understood by the president, the education of young women in Sierra Leone remains low on the priority list of many households. The cost of education is a large barrier to young women attending school. Most families have limited resources, and plenty of responsibilities around the house, and so most young women lack the opportunities to complete their high school education without interruption.
Unfortunately, low education levels and graduation rates are only the beginning of the challenges that young women face. Less educated women are less likely to be economically independent, thus more reliant on men for their survival. According to (ILO) 2008 global report, approximately 70% of those who live under one dollar a day are women. Women and girls, as the majority of the world’s poor, are also the most vulnerable to the effects of rights violation. With lower levels of education and little economic independence from men, many women have little voice in their homes and communities to speak up for their rights, and few opportunities for engagement with policy-makers. This environment perpetuates a cycle of disempowerment, poverty and exploitation. There are few successful women leaders in the targeted communities that advocate for the rights of women. Without leadership in these communities, women’s rights, including their reproductive and sexual rights are regularly violated, while the perpetrators go unquestioned and unpunished. For teenage girls, especially those with low-levels of education and lacking the confidence to speak up for themselves, their situation is especially precarious.
Teenage girls have little opportunity for exposure to, or involvement in activities wherein they may build confidence and learn skills that can promote their social and physical development. Many girls, for example, are current members of female football clubs across the country, but without financial support, many teams do not have the opportunity to engage in league play. Sport has been identified by several international organizations as an exceptional tool for development and empowerment of young people, teaching interpersonal skills such as teamwork and communication, instilling confidence and creating a playfully competitive atmosphere between otherwise opposing groups. The current lack of support for young women in sport makes it impossible for the existing teams to reap the benefits that sport has to offer.
Educating young women improves their chances for a better future and is also, as identified by UNFPA’s National Strategy for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy in Sierra Leone, linked to important indicators, including increased earning power: “Every year of schooling increases a girlʼs individual earning power by 10 to 20%, while the return on secondary education is even higher, in the 15 to 25%” (2012).
Project participants are supported with academic guidance and support on a weekly basis to help them complete their secondary school education and give them opportunity to learn and practice the concepts they are taught in class.
From November 2013 to July 2014, Advocate Plus recruited local tutors to support 120 young women with extra learning sessions. 14 tutors were provided with teaching materials to engage 140 students on a weekly basis. Furthermore, our 140 participants received scholarships to support their families with the cost of their annual school fees.
In addition to the planned tutorial sessions, Advocate Plus, in partnership with the national youth commission, offered extra computer training sessions to help students with hands-on computer practice, which is unavailable in most schools, but often a requirement of employment. Over 30 young women enrolled in basic computer classes over a two month period.
Despite these many challenges, some motivated Sierra Leoneans have a strong grasp of the underlying causes of these problems and are determined to improve their futures, as well as those around them. Advocate Plus matches young women with female role models in their communities, that are trained to educate and empower youth to make healthy decisions and become leaders in their communities.
In 2013-14, 4 adult female role models and 10 young leaders met for 12 intensive and engaging sessions over four months. At the end of this term, the young leaders emerged ready to train others and form a network of young, empowered female leaders in their communities.
Increasing young girls confidence also impacts their ability to demand their rights, especially regarding sexual activities. Sport is a well known tool in development of confidence and leadership in young people.
With benefits including, but not limited to, life skills, improved health, pride and confidence, sport help to keep girls healthy and build their body and overall confidence, it helps reinforce the skills that they are taught during the leadership component. The love for the game of football and the pride that so many of our young participants took while playing made it the best choice to help solidify the concept of esteem within each of these young women.
140 young women across seven teams participated in the first Young women’s football league in Bo City during our Pilot Phase in 2013-2014. To adequately prepare our representatives and coaching staff for the football season, Advocate Plus offered a series of workshops for staff and coaches to ensure the players were provided a safe and supportive environment in which to play, learn and grow. Fourteen coaches, three referees and seven project volunteers were trained to deliver emergency first aid.
A fair play workshop and forum was conducted with 14 coaches, 3 referees and 7 team representatives in attendance and a Code of Conduct was created, agreed upon and signed by all parties. This code of conduct help ensure that expectations of coaches, players and program staff were clarified and followed.
Our ability to involve 140 young women in sport did not come without its challenges, nor without consulting the communities in which we worked. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, National Youth commission, Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and other local partners, over 20 parents meetings were held across 6 communities to engage the older generation in our discussions of young women as leaders, in sport and in school.
Our outreach did not stop there, as we felt it necessary to engage the broader community on these topics through monthly radio broadcasts and discussions. After speaking with parents, many were excited for their daughters to be involved in this program, especially because it supports their academic development and were accepting of their daughters playing football.
“In a democratic system of government, a free and fair vote is the fundamental tool through which active citizens can express their political preferences and development desires”
In 2012, almost 20% of local politicians were women with just 13% at national level. Every seat was hard won with numerous candidates facing discrimination, threats and even violence. Even those who succeed in attaining parliamentary seats are often relegated to a powerless “women’s wing” by their own parties. Within Sierra Leone’s traditional patriarchal society, women have often struggled to prioritize their concerns on the political agenda.
EMPOWERING 1000 VOTERS
Through our voter awareness campaign, Advocate+ worked hard to inform women of the importance of their vote, educate them on the nature of the election process and provide training to empower women to hold their politicians to account. Through a voter awareness campaign workshop, 1000 women were reached and encouraged to register to vote. Only through increased women’s participation in the electoral process will they be able openly discuss and solve the many challenges facing them.
“It has been said that war is the price of peace…Sierra Leone has already paid too much. Let them live a better life”
-Ambassador Juan Larrain
BLOOD DIAMONDS AND WAR
On 6 January 1999, rebel soldiers joined forces with the Revolutionary United front to launch “Operation No living Thing” on Freetown leaving 5,000 dead. Funded by an illicit trade in the country’s diamonds and orchestrated by Liberian leader and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor, the 11-year-long civil war devastated Sierra Leone’s population and infrastructure. In less than two weeks an estimated 100,000 people were forced to leave their homes and six thousand civilians murdered.
A WAY FORWARD
Having succeeded in securing political stability, IPSIL’s completed its mandate in March 2014 and transferred its responsibilities to 19 national programmes including Advocate+. Focussing on land ownership rights, equitable management of natural resources and government transparency, our peacebuilding programme encourages leaders of all backgrounds and religions to work together to promote a lasting peace. Through training a network of mediators this project helps traditionally sidelined members of society participate actively in the political process.