The Western Area Rural District in Sierra Leone is a prime example of the discrimination and unfair low representation of women in governance despite representing over 50% of the population. Out of the 27 district councillors, only three are women. Of the 8 MPs, only 2 are women, and only 5 women are among the 121 tribal heads who constitute the traditional governance structure in the District. Poor road networks coupled with unstable and inexistent electricity supply in some areas makes it difficult or impossible in some areas for women to diversify from subsistence farming as that is the only way to provide for their families. The lack of social awareness and high levels of rural society stereotypes has increased the incidence of gender based violence in schools and homes against women which leads to injuries, sexual related diseases(STDs) and even death. SEND Sierra Leone and its development partner TROCAIRE together with beneficiaries developed this project to focus on capacity building ranging from skills training, business trainings and development, agricultural support, financial support, and support for women to access vocational, adult and tertiary education to empower and prepare them to seek opportunities in the job market. Other proposed interventions include provision of storage facilities to support the expansion of businesses on fish, construction of market centres with adequate sanitary facilities and encouraging women participation in decision making process in the community.
Irish Aid through TROCAIREProject Implementing Partner:
SEND Sierra LeoneProject Location:
Western Area Rural DistrictDuration:
9 months (1st April – 31st December, 2019)Project Budget:
€55,000Project Thematic Areas:
Contact details and contact
SEND Sierra Leone
The Western Area Rural District has a total population of 442,951 of which 219,542 and 223,409 are respectively men and women. Despite being more than men, women’s participation in decision making in the District Council is appalling. Out of the 27 district councillors, only three are women. Of the 8 MPs, only 2 are women, and only 5 women are among the 121 tribal heads who constitute the traditional governance structure in the District.
Poor road network hinders women access to market centres for local trade. This limits their income earning capacity to support themselves and their dependents. Lack of regular electricity hinders their trade in perishable goods such as fish, and agricultural products. The lack of social awareness and available social options greatly contribute to the increasing rates of Gender Based Violence in homes and in schools, which expose them to sexual and reproductive health risks such as STIs.
Low education among women in Western Rural District also limit their choices and options, contributing to inferiority complex among them, and their inability to unite as a group to fight for the empowerment and liberation of themselves. As a result, there is widening gender inequality in slum communities and rural villages, increased sexual harassment, and stigmatization of women, early marriage as a source of livelihood, which contributes to their overreliance on men. Lack of skills trainings put women in the communities around the district in the lower scale of economic rankings of men and women. The associated consequences are increased poverty among women and continuous marginalisation. These major challenges women face are aligned to the challenges identified in Pillar 8 of the Sierra Leone Government’s Agenda for Prosperity, which affirms the patriarchal nature of Sierra Leone society. Discriminatory customs continue to dehumanize and marginalise women across communities in the country. It confirms early marriage, increasing rates of GBV, high illiteracy among women, and their limited options to employment as other major challenges that affect the empowerment and progress of women. Women’s access to education, health care and political decision making are limited. It is estimated that in the just concluded national elections, women constitute only 13% of the number of MPs in the Country’s Parliament. As result, national development and cohesion is threatened by the disparity between men and women in the governance of the country.
This project’s theory of change centre on the goal of increasing women awareness on gender, their entitlements and responsibilities, and enabling them have access to financial resources and business skills to have increased income to enhance their effective participation in decision making at family, community, district and national level. It proposes first to ensure that women have more secure and sustainable livelihoods as they are limited in terms of access to land to produce food crops that women mostly rely on given their challenges to enhance their economic participation and empowerment. Men also continue to possess and dominate the access and control of resources and other business channels that women can earn income to support their economic livelihood. Around WARDC, women are unable to travel to rural communities where agricultural activities take place to buy agricultural produce for trading in the western areas urban and rural to support their empowerment due to poor road infrastructure in the rural areas and poor transportation system.
Given the alignment of community and national challenges, this project proposes to address some of the challenges identified above. Representatives of communities proposed the following solutions to contribute to their empowerment: Focus on capacity building ranging from skills training, business trainings and development, agricultural support, financial support, and support for women to access vocational, adult and tertiary education to empower and prepare them to seek opportunities in the job market. Other proposed interventions include provision of storage facilities to support the expansion of businesses on fish, construction of market centres with adequate sanitary facilities and encouraging women participation in decision making process in the community.
These communities proposed solutions are aligned to Trocaire Sierra Leone strategic objectives of improving the income levels of women and girls, while working with them and institutions to protect their rights to and control of resources earned individually or jointly. They also support the women empowerment objectives of the Country Program which aims at reducing violence towards women and protecting their rights through the promotion of access to financial resources and business development and expansion.
The following strategies are initially proposed to contribute to achieving this outcome: women will be educated on resource mobilization and encouraged to save their own resources to embark on business ventures. In 2019 the WISE Project will provide them with saving boxes and refresh their minds on owned resources mobilization to enable them develop the culture of saving their own resources for investment in business development and expansion. The project also proposes to see that women have increased voice and influence in the public sphere. This desired change is developed on the assumption that if women and their husbands are mobilised through gender education, and leadership development, they will understand their own roles and take the lead to empower themselves politically and economically to contribute to local development. If men and boys trained from the Gender Model (GMF) concept develop awareness on the traditional practices that limit the empowerment and contribution of women, they will form allies and partnership with women in fighting inequality and hunger.
To achieve this outcome, the project will mobilise target women and provide them with gender education to enable them understand their entitlements and responsibilities, while also using the Gender Model Family (GMF) Concept to support husbands, wives and their children who use their understanding of gender and power, resource mobilization, access and control to be models for social change and transformation in society by challenging traditional notions of gender roles and responsibilities
Also, the more than 7000 individual members of the different women groups of the network will be sensitized to use the 4 Gender Acts to claim rights, for example to participate in the political process of the district. Equally, marginalized groups led by the KWIGN will be supported to hold the 28 district councillors accountable for their mandates especially as it relate to improving the access of their constituents to health and education. Finally, women councillors and district executives of the KWIGN will be trained and supported to become internet literate and users to increase their communication, networking and to fund raise. The KWIG Network Secretariat will be provided with additional computers and modems to be used by the women leaders and councillors. Through these planned activities the project will on the one hand transform and make gender sensitive governance institutions and on the other hand, empower women and marginalized groups with knowledge, skills and platforms to improve on their participation in the DC, WDCs and PP
1. Project inception meetings in 5 wards, covering the 14 targeted communities.
2. Mobilize and form 14 new VSLA groups in the communities.
3. Procure and distribute VSLA toolkits to the 14 new women’s groups.
4. Train 280 VSLA group members on the VSLA model, business and financial management, recording keeping and resource mobilization
5. Organize leadership and group management training for 70 women leaders of the 14 new women’s groupsOutcome 2: Women have increased voice and influence in the public sphere
1. Conduct orientation with the 14 year 1 women’s solidarity groups on the unconditional cash transfer approaches.
2. Support groups to develop their constitutions and elect -group leaders.
3. Register women’s groups with the respective line ministries and local council.
4. Open bank accounts for the women’s solidarity groups.
5. Conduct refresher training for 196 women’s group members on business development, record keeping and financial management for the year 1 women’s groups.
6. Organize leadership and group management training for 70 women leaders of the 14 old women’s groups
7. Organise Gender Model Family trainings for the 28 old and new women groups in 14 communities
8. Hold District consultations with women groups in Kenema, Kailahun, Kono and Bonthe Districts on the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment policy.
9. Hold meeting with religious leaders as a standalone group in Western Rural Area.
10. Produce jingles in local language on the GEWE policy to be aired in all the districts across Sierra Leone.
11. Conduct Report writing, M&E, GMF, VSLA and Business Development training for SEND staff.
The target groups for the project include poor and vulnerable rural adult women, community stakeholders and district stakeholders. Rural adult’s women (18 or older): The in-direct beneficiaries for the rural adult’s women are calculated by multiplying total number of women reached by 7 household members. Therefore, the total number of in-direct beneficiaries reached by rural adult women will be (676*7) 4,732 for year two project.
Community Stakeholders: The in-direct beneficiaries for women leaders is calculated by multiplying total number of community stakeholders reached as direct beneficiaries by 13 community members (76 community stakeholders x 13 community members). Therefore, the total number of in-direct beneficiaries reached by community stakeholders will be 988.
District Stakeholders: In-direct beneficiaries for district stakeholders is calculated by multiplying total number of district stakeholders reached by 13 community members (15 district stakeholders x 13 community members). Therefore, the total number of in-direct beneficiaries reached by district stakeholders in the year two project will be 195.
Based on these calculations SEND will reach a total number of 5,915 indirect beneficiaries for the year two project that will be in western area rural.Read Project Report