MAGE – Sierra Leone meet to empower activists

Men’s Association for Gender Equality (MAGE) commenced their introductory district entry meetings to engage community actors, stakeholders, government personnel and institutions.

The participants would benefit from a training to empower them in supporting community mobilization to foster state accountability in the prevention and response to Gender Based Violence (GBV) and promoting Gender Equality under a project titled Rights Action and Accountability for Gender Justice in Africa for a period of 4 years ending in 2021.

Hundred activists are going to work as focal contact team players, 50 each from the Southern Region and the Western Urban districts. They also include NGO –partners, religious leaders and the media.

Speaking on Wednesday April 25, at the Kolbot community, Kanikay, one of the coastal slums of the capital, Freetown, Antonius Lamin Lansana, Programs Manager MAGE said MAGE Sierra Leone is an active MenEngage African member, a Continental Alliance of country networks and international partners working with men and boys to promote gender justice, equality, women’s right and empowerment.

He called on community stakeholders to take the lead in curbing domestic violence with gender lenses for sanity to prevail in peace and harmony. “A lot of impunity is pervading the communities today because GBV activists have seized to exist in various communities who in the past were serving as arbitrators in such issues and where need be, pursue perpetrators to book,” he stated, pointing out instances where there are bottlenecks in fighting crime because sometimes those involved in the acts are affluent and influential in society.

Mr. Lansana spoke against the culture of impunity and how the activists would ensure that society is rid off impugned culture and bring perpetrators to book. He cited the example of Dominic Strauss Khan, the former IMF director who was implicated in allegations of rape. Following his conviction, he said, the IMF strong man ended up losing his lucrative job, which goes to serve justice to the poor Guinean maid.

Participants drawn from Portee, Rokupa and Kolbot communities partook in the induction session with much zeal but raised questions about their empowerment to carrying out the advocacy; prevention and community awareness, and sensitization drive in keeping the watchdog role.

The overall goal of the project is to contribute to the realisation of human rights and gender equality by building active and empowered local communities that would hold governments accountable for the implementation of legislation and policies aimed at preventing and responding to GBV and promoting gender equality.

It is expected at the end of the project activities that key players would have the capacity, commitment and skills to mobilise around, prevent and respond to gender-based violence in project countries. They are also expected to increase accountability and action from local level duty bearers in project countries to respond to gender-based violence.

In the final analysis, national governments in project countries are held accountable to develop, review and implement evidence-based strategies to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, including engaging men and boys for gender equality and an end to GBV.

The next visit in Bo will target Kakua and Bagbe chiefdoms with a focus on Niagorehun and Ngalu communities. Key activities include community stakeholders meetings and dialogue sessions; community education, training for CATs members and religious leaders; exchange visits; media engagements and advocacy; Court monitoring and case tracking, and monitoring oversight bodies through established coalitions.

The project which commenced in July 2017 is implemented in Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is funded by the Norwegian Agency for development (NORAD) through Sonke Gender Justice.