Sierra Leone projects fight for women’s participation against the barriers of patriarchy

An UNDEF project in Sierra Leone works to strengthen women’s participation in areas where cultural patriarchal barriers have previously limited their involvement. The project engages women in decision-making and access to services in the two newly created rural districts of Falaba and Karene, two former rural chiefdoms that recently attained full district status. The project works through training and facilitation, raising the profile of women’s rights, amplifying women’s voices, and working with local government stakeholders to create entry points for women to become an integral part of the governance process.

UNDEF Project Officer Katie Travers visited the project in November 2021, travelling to Karene to meet with implementing partner Action Plus, project beneficiaries, and local government stakeholders. She participated in a capacity-building session for local women’s groups on governance, rights-related advocacy, and community support mechanisms for women.

Katie Travers also met with two other UNDEF projects in Sierra Leone. One was an initiative to enhance women’s role in local governance through monitoring service delivery and holding local government to account. Implemented by The Campaign for Good Governance, the project trains women from target communities on local government policy and low-tech data collection; empowers women to monitor progress in the delivery of community electricity, water and health services; and creates platforms for constructive dialogue between women’s groups, traditional leaders and local representatives to present monitoring results, community needs and urge duty bearers to uphold their commitments to improve service provision.

The other is a project under development to increase the capacity of community-based organizations and women’s rights groups to advocate for gender parity, building on a national policy for 30 per cent’s women’s representation at all levels of governance. The project is to be implemented by Muloma Women’s Development Association in the run-up to the general elections scheduled for 2023.