The Girls’ Agenda, last Wednesday organised
a day-long multi-sectorial school seminar on sexual violence, held at the NaNA
conference hall in Bakau.
The event brought together 60 participants (students, school authorities, teachers, mothers’ club leaders, Parents-Teachers Association, media practitioners and authorities from the ministry of basic and secondary education) in West Coast Region.
The Girls’ Agenda, a young women-led organisation that promotes the respect and protection of human rights and the advancement of women and girls, secured a grant from the Global Fund for Women to conduct the seminar. It was meant to raise awareness on sexual violence as a barrier to the attainment of sustainable girls’ education and self-actualisation.
It was also meant to encourage parents to understand that sexual violence is a gender based violence issue and children deserve to be protected and people must be encouraged to report cases to get the right help at the right time,so as to end the culture of compromise (negotiating with perpetrators to avoid legal actions).
It is hoped that the will help to popularise, the 2013 sexual offences Act and the educational policy that addresses sexual violence and special protection measures for girls.
Chairman of the National Youth Council, Dembo Kambi said everyone has a responsibility to inculcate good characters and behaviors that will help in producing women of substance, pride and who will be able to take the nation to greater heights.
He said teachers have the role to guide, protect and give required knowledge to students to become players in the socio-economic development of the country and not to abuse or take advantage over them.
According to Mr. Kambi, sexual education for children should start with their parents, saying if parents fail to apply responsibility on their children, social media will teach them bad lessons. “We cannot end sexual violence and abuse without coming together. We must always report cases of sexual violence, abuse and harassment.”
Representing the minister of basic and secondary education, Mustapha Drammeh said schools should be places where everyone especially girls would feel safe and protected.
He highlighted that when girls are in an environment where they feel safe and free from sexual violence, they will participate better and unleash their potentials.
He said the ministry, through the current education policy is committed to mainstreaming gender concerns at every stage of the education process for the realisation of the gender parity goals.
Mr. Drammeh expressed the ministry’s readiness to work with all relevant authorities to ensure that girls are supported, empowered and protected to reach their full potentials.
Alasana Gitteh, a member of The Girls’ Agenda board of directors called on all to work together in ensuring sexual violence become the thing of the past.