Hands Off Our Girls Campaign to be Taken to another level by Youth Groups

    Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, Lusine Kallon

    By Fatmata Jengbe

    On 22 January 2020 the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, Lusine Kallon engaged a cross-section of Western Area Youth Councils and Heads of Youth Groups to discuss the way forward after the successful support accorded to the national launch of HE Fatima Bio’s flagship Hands off Our Girls campaign at the Siaka Steven Stadium in December 2019.

    According to Mr. Kallon, he is highly grateful to all youth groups for coming out in their thousands to support the initiative. He added that the Ministry of Youth Affairs is proud to have youth groups across the country supporting national initiatives and that the Ministry cannot make any significant headway without the involvement of the youth.

    Speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the first dialogue between the Ministry and the various youth groups, Mr. Kallon cited the importance of dialogue which he said bridges the gap between the youth and the Government and enables the Government to draw up plans and come out with policies that can positively affect youth progress. He said the Ministry is determined to ensure that daily dialogue is maintained between the Ministry and the youth groups.

    Updates on the previous meeting between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and youth groups was done by Ambassador Foyoh while an update on the Signing up of the Commitment Banner was presented by Sia Comfort Nyukeh, Gender Officer, Ministry of Youth Affairs.

    Tejan Z. Kellah, District Youth Council Chairman Western Urban District admonished his colleagues to stay focused and work in tandem with the Ministry of Youth because according to him, the success of the Ministry is ultimately the success of youth in the country. He buttressed the words of the Deputy Minister saying that when they work together the achievements would be great. He also thanked the youth groups that participated in last December’s national launch of the Hands off Our Girls campaign, adding that there is much more youth in this country can do when they are determined to work together for the overall benefit of Sierra Leone.

    Ms. Nyukeh said among other things that the Ministry of Youths is planning on implementing a project which has to do with Sexual Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence, adding that it seeks to complement the efforts of the First Lady and that the meeting is in continuation of what was started last year; basically seeking to ensure that the girl child enjoys more space to ensure she is able to realize her full potentials and to not be subject to any form of harassment inimical to her growth as a person. She maintained that the move is to complement the efforts of the First Lady in initiating the Hands off Our Girls campaign. She added that the girl child falls within the age bracket of 15-35 and that girls, between15-19 are mostly the ones that are sexually penetrated. She said it is the responsibility and mandate of the Youth Affairs Ministry to ensure that a safer space is created for these girls to actualize their dreams.

    Youth leaders from various groups gave their inputs; making suggestions and recommendations on what they believe should be included in their action plan leading to the presentation of an award to the First Lady and presentation of a Commitment Banner with signatures of numerous heads of institutions agreeing to support the Hands off Our Girls Campaign.

    Suggestions and recommendations that were floated by the various youth leaders included employment of Social Workers at all schools across the country; establishing a Free Toll line to report sexual abuse and related matters; having school-going girls getting haircuts to identify them easily; opening Virginity Clubs with special inducements such as full scholarship for girls who maintain their virginity until a certain age; getting the police, youth groups, professional groups and other parties to present position papers on the day the award and presentation of the Signed Commitment Banner is made, among several other suggestions and recommendations.

    The climax of the meeting was a question and answer session which was professionally handled by the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, Lusine Kallon who answered most of the questions and provided expert advice on the way forward.


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