By Alvin Lansana Kargbo
Caritas Freetown, in partnership with the Civil Peace Service (CPS) and Trocaire on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 celebrated International Day of the Girl Child with the theme, “Our Time is Now – Our Right, Our Future.” The event took place at the idyllic Fisheries Boat Yard in Tombo, Western Rural Area and was geared towards raising awareness among girls about their fundamental human rights as well as empowering them to assert those rights. It was also focused on advancing the right of girls to access education, live free from fear and violence and to participate in decision-making processes.
The event’s objective was to engage with 50 school girls and various stakeholders, providing them a platform to commemorate such a momentous day. Attendees included representatives from the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs, the Family Support Unit of Tombo Police Station, Village Headmen and other local stakeholders in Tombo.
Education was the focal point of the celebration, with a strong emphasis on inspiring girls to pursue their studies and overcome the obstacles that often impede access to quality education. The organizers firmly expressed the conviction that by arming girls with knowledge related to their rights, they are equipping them with the tools necessary to advocate for themselves and become agents of change within their communities.
In addition to education, the event addressed the critical issue of violence against girls and also aimed to foster a safe and supportive environment where girls could voice their concerns and seek solutions to address the challenges they face. By promoting dialogue and collaboration, Caritas Freetown, CPS, and Trocaire aspired to create a society where girls can thrive without fear of violence or discrimination.
The day’s activities included involving representatives and village stakeholders in various discussions and interactive sessions centered on girls’ empowerment. Speeches, inspirational talks, and collaborative activities were designed to inspire and motivate girls to seize their opportunities and shape their own destinies.
Tobias Grosse, a Civil Peace servant from CPS, stressed the importance of empowering women and girls, underlining their vulnerability in Sierra Leone and worldwide. He encouraged women to support their daughters’ education and urged the girls to remain focused and not be misled by criminal individuals.
Paul Abraham Mansaray, a social worker from the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs and the Family Support Unit at Tombo Police Station, expressed concern about the crimes committed by unreasonable men against girls in Tombo. He pledged the Unit’s commitment to collaborating with local schools in Tombo to ensure that those involved in such criminal activities are brought to justice. Mansaray emphasized the vital roles of women in society and urged girls to prioritize education.
Alpha S. Mansaray, the Village Headman of Tombo, expressed his dissatisfaction with the way some men are harming girls in the village. He thanked Caritas for their efforts in empowering girls and providing them with knowledge about self-prioritization for a better future.
Kadiatu Z. Fofanah, the Chairlady of the Women in Fishery in Tombo, expressed her frustration with men who harm girls, undermining the financial efforts of the women who support their children’s education. She also thanked Caritas for their initiative in empowering girls and called for authorities to take decisive actions against those harming young girls.
Aminata M. Mansaray, a teacher in Tombo, expressed her disappointment with some parents’ lack of involvement in their children’s lives. She emphasized that some parents prioritize their businesses over their children’s education and well-being. Mansaray urged children to focus on their education to become valuable members of society. Aminata also called on parents to take a more active role in their children’s lives and ensure their safety and educational progress.
The celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child in Tombo was a significant step towards empowering girls, educating them about their rights and fostering a safe and supportive environment where they can thrive without fear. It underscored the need for collaboration among various stakeholders to address the unique challenges faced by girls and promote their well-being and future prospects.