By Fatmata Jengbe
On Monday, 9 March 2020 the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles was honoured with the opening of the Open-Field Legal Education Exhibition organized by the Lady Ellen Women’s Aid Foundation (LEWAF) as part of celebrations marking International Women’s Day. The exhibition was held at Foamex Field in Calaba Town.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles called the over one thousand female Community-Based Justice Advocates to use the Legal Education training they have acquired to work with stakeholders to bring peace and respect for human rights in their respective communities.
“You should ensure people know and respect the law,” she said. “You should also ensure women are given the respect they deserve. Man are taking advantage of women despite their immense contributions to the home and the community.”
She emphasized that to become a good advocate, they should first correct themselves before correcting others. “As representatives of the community, you have to lead by example.” Carlton-Hanciles said.
Earlier one, the Executive Director of LEWAF, Mohamed Jalloh said the purpose of the exhibition is for the Community Advocates to showcase the knowledge they have acquired from the Open Society for West Africa (OSIWA) funded project. It is aimed at educating women on the laws that are relevant to protecting and advancing their rights and interest in the home and community.
The keynote speaker, Ms. Simitie Lavaly said the laws must guarantee equality between men and women. She noted that the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone is leading by example as the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Act provides that at least two of the five Commissioners should be female.
She called on the women to know the law and use the law to protect themselves. She emphasized that Legal Empowerment is about knowing the law, enforcing one’s rights and shaping the law.
Deputy Minister of Social Welfare underscored the commitment of the Government in promoting issues around the women. Other speakers include the Member of Parliament for Calaba Town and its environs, the Head of the Family Support unit at the Calaba Town Police station, the Representative of Sierra Leone Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (SLANGO) and Tribal Authorities.
The event was climaxed with interaction with the Community–Based Justice Advocates as they explain aspects of law relating to the four gender laws using pictures.