By Foday Moriba Conteh
In commemorating the 30 years anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence on the theme: “Orange the World, End Violence Against Women and Girls Now!” which is an annual international campaign that kicks off on the 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day, the Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet) in collaboration with partners has on Wednesday 8th December, 2021 held a one-day dialogue session with pupils of Beacon High School. The event was held at the school hall on Signal Hill in Freetown.
In his welcome statement, the Vice Principal of Beacon High School, applauded the Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet) and partners for undertaking such an awareness raising campaign which he described as not only important but a timely intervention geared towards the Elimination of Violence against Women and girls in the country.
He called on other organizations to join them in raising awareness on Gender Based Violence and assured AMNet of their fullest support, of which he also used the opportunity to encourage the pupils to serve as Ambassadors in their schools and communities in advocating the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls in the country.
In her statement, the Chief Executive Officer of the Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet), Willimina Sho-Cole, said that gender based violence is against the fundamental human rights of women and girls and that it prevents them from achieving their full potentials.
She disclosed that Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet), is an organization that has been in existence since 2006 working on women empowerment, child protection and youth development, adding that currently the organization has offices in 4 districts which includes Freetown, Bonthe, Kambia and Koinadugu and that they have been implementing activities across the country.
Willimina Sho-Cole maintained that the mandate of AMNet is to deepen rights holders understanding about human rights and social justice as a means for them to reflect on their individual lives and use their skills to make informed choices as agents of social change in the country.
She further revealed that Sierra Leone is among other countries that commemorates the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and that the country has signed many laws in support of ending violence against women and girls of which she stated that AMNet, as a rights based organization, joined the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations in the campaign drive to end violence against women and girls.
She stated that AMNet, as part of their activities in commemorating the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, deemed it fit to engage pupils in a dialogue in order for them to understand the importance of ending violence against women and girls.
She informed them that during this event AMNet has been able to conduct several community based programs, organized school talk shows, community sensitization activities in slum communities etc.
On her part, Board Member Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet), Mrs. Dabos admonished pupils to speak out against violence against women and girls especially sexual violence.
She added that she was present at the first meeting on the global fight against gender based violence against women and girls.
Speaking on Orange’s contribution in ending violence against women and girls, the Coding Head of Orange Foundation Sierra Leone, Priscilla Okectukwu, stated that violence against women and girls is violence against the whole of humankind, and should have no place in Africa or
anywhere else in the world and that the responsibility falls on all to keep their commitments to prevent, openly reject and condemn all acts of violence against women and girls.
“Orange Sierra Leone & Orange Sierra Leone Foundation are strongly committed to the fight to eliminate violence against women and girls. As an organization established to create social change in Sierra Leone, we take this fight seriously,” she maintained.
Priscilla Okechukwu pointed out that there are many ways to combat violence against women and girls adding how a program like the one AMNet is rolling out plays significant roles in sensitizing key groups on the dangers of violence against women and girls and the importance of eliminating it.
Giving a keynote address, the Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, Dr. Ekundayo Walton Gilpin, expressed appreciation to the Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet) for the laudable venture in taking the Gender-Based Violence Awareness Campaign to Beacon High School.
He said that the 16 Days of Activism are used as an organizing strategies by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
The Managing Director further used the opportunity to encourage pupils present to serve as Ambassadors in their school and their different communities.
The Managing Director inspired pupils to believe in themselves and that they should ensure they maintain positive attitudes which, he said, will help them to become great men and women in society.