Gender Equality For A Better Salone

On the 26th of September I traveled to the city of Kabala, located in northern Sierra Leone. Once there I participated in an unforgettable General Assembly of the Council of Churches of Sierra Leone (CCSL). This event reunited CCSL staff working in different offices throughout the country, as well as partners, ministers, and families. I admired many aspects of the General Assembly, and particularly the genuine interest of participants in working together, staying connected, and responding to crises and injustices. This gathering made it possible for me to share conversations and laughs with a variety of dedicated people who continuously use their gifts and skills to enhance the mission of CCSL. The General Assembly in Kabala didn’t feel like the typical conference that I’ve become familiar with in the U.S. Instead, it was more like a family reunion. There was a strong sense of support and oneness that bonded the large body of people together, especially between the high numbers of CCSL staff in attendance.

With a large turnout of impactful Christian leaders in Sierra Leone who would deliver lessons from the General Assembly to their chiefdoms and congregations, it was critical that participants discuss issues the country faces and the responses required from the Christian community to defeat injustices. During the first day of the General Assembly, there was a presentation dedicated to discussing sexism and gender justice in Sierra Leone. Attaining gender equity in Sierra Leone remains challenging as women face the reality of limited leadership roles and little access to decision-making processes. The Council advocates for women’s rights and encourages gender equality throughout Sierra Leone by implementing programs that aim to improve women’s education, health, and knowledge of finance.

A key Assembly speaker cast light on ways in which traditional practices hinder girls’ lives, actions that can counter these practices. One such practice is early marriage, where an underage girl is pressured into marrying an older man. The presenter suggested that pastors meet with the Paramount Chief of different towns and villages to encourage them to prevent early marriage in their villages. This is a pivotal suggestion as Paramount Chiefs set the law for their respective villages, and therefore have the power to stop early marriage. The partnership between pastors and Paramount Chiefs is vital in fighting injustices.

In addition, the speaker encouraged pastors and congregants to preach about women’s rights in church. “When you know that what you speak is the truth, and it’s not for personal gain, people will listen. The church must ensure gender justice for all.” As a church, we can’t continue to silence women’s voices and discourages women from obtaining leadership positions within their churches or communities. Women aren’t allowed to serve as Paramount Chiefs, local judges and mediators, and have limited input on decisions of resources. The church can’t continue to diminish the value in women’s leadership. The speaker concluded by stating that for Sierra Leone to improve, we must include women and fight for gender equality. The church can’t continue to be silent and not confront issues that negatively impact the lives of woman and girls. To encourage and celebrate women means to include their voices in every aspect of church.

As the Council continues to fight for gender equality, efforts from Christian leaders are necessary for increased awareness of and challenge to sexist societal norms in Sierra Leone. As a church, we owe it to women, children, and Sierra Leone itself to find the courage to denounce acts that cause harm to women and diminish the quality of their lives.

“If Salone for betteh, dem for gie every women en right.”

With a large turnout of impactful Christian leaders in Sierra Leone who would deliver lessons from the General Assembly to their chiefdoms and congregations, it was critical that participants discuss issues the country faces and the responses required from the Christian community to defeat injustices. During the first day of the General Assembly, there was a presentation dedicated to discussing sexism and gender justice in Sierra Leone. Attaining gender equity in Sierra Leone remains challenging as women face the reality of limited leadership roles and little access to decision-making processes. The Council advocates for women’s rights and encourages gender equality throughout Sierra Leone by implementing programs that aim to improve women’s education, health, and knowledge of finance.

A key Assembly speaker cast light on ways in which traditional practices hinder girls’ lives, actions that can counter these practices. One such practice is early marriage, where an underage girl is pressured into marrying an older man. The presenter suggested that pastors meet with the Paramount Chief of different towns and villages to encourage them to prevent early marriage in their villages. This is a pivotal suggestion as Paramount Chiefs set the law for their respective villages, and therefore have the power to stop early marriage. The partnership between pastors and Paramount Chiefs is vital in fighting injustices.

In addition, the speaker encouraged pastors and congregants to preach about women’s rights in church. “When you know that what you speak is the truth, and it’s not for personal gain, people will listen. The church must ensure gender justice for all.” As a church, we can’t continue to silence women’s voices and discourages women from obtaining leadership positions within their churches or communities. Women aren’t allowed to serve as Paramount Chiefs, local judges and mediators, and have limited input on decisions of resources. The church can’t continue to diminish the value in women’s leadership. The speaker concluded by stating that for Sierra Leone to improve, we must include women and fight for gender equality. The church can’t continue to be silent and not confront issues that negatively impact the lives of woman and girls. To encourage and celebrate women means to include their voices in every aspect of church.

As the Council continues to fight for gender equality, efforts from Christian leaders are necessary for increased awareness of and challenge to sexist societal norms in Sierra Leone. As a church, we owe it to women, children, and Sierra Leone itself to find the courage to denounce acts that cause harm to women and diminish the quality of their lives.

“If Salone for betteh, dem for gie every women en right.”

Nia Sullivan serves with the Council of Churches, Sierra Leone, Girls Access to Education Program (GATE). Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, OGHS, and your special gifts.

 

 


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