Freetown, October 8-9, 2018—MenEngage Sierra Leone and the Sonke Gender Justice has held a two-day training workshop to transform Religious and traditional leaders and to ensure gender justices in the different communities.
The workshop was hosted at the Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone (CHASL) conference hall along King Harman Road in Freetown.
The aim is to share with religious and traditional leaders the idea of making them and places safe grounds for all victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
Reverend Khumalo Bafana, the strategic Partnership Director of the Soke foundation, in his presentation put forward the gender discusses and implored religious and traditional leaders to imbibe in the gender justices’ role in their various communities.
Fathers and mothers, he said, should be important role models in the homes and communities and men, women, boys and girls, he said, should dispel the notions held about the supposed men chores different from those of women. “Also, to change people’s perceptions about men who called others names if they chose to help their partners”, he stated.
He discussed girls, women and gender inequality, when the issue of becoming a role model came to focus. He said people often make a mistake in depicting women when the word gender is mentioned.
He therefore said religious and traditional leaders should take the lead in trying to implement what is right and not to skew the context of the scripture to favour male superiority over females.
Reverend Bafana further said, society got it wrong in assuming that cultures and traditions are constant. “It is not true”, he stressed. “Cultures, customs and traditions change from time to time, so is human behaviour and civilization patterns”, he stated.
He called on the religious and traditional leaders to help break the numerous gender injustices in the country since they are more trusted than the politicians in Africa.
Rev. Kumalo said, people can attend religious activities without asking for any reward unlike political activities.
He warned pretentious men to be real and learn to disclose their feelings to their partners.
Mphokuhle Mabhena, a trainer, also from the Sonke team, broaden the scope of learning from people of faith who are role models.
The expected outcome is to have faith-based communities providing strong positive leaderships in their communities; serve as role models for violence free society, relationships and gender behaviour.
Earlier, the Director of Men’s Association for Gender Equality, David Tamba Mackieu emphasised the need for religious leaders and gender activists to work hands in glove to change the age-old inferiority perceptions in the gender discuss and the divide between men and women.
MenEngage Sierra Leone is currently implementing a project on Rights, Action and Accountability that supports community mobilization and state accountability for gender justice in Africa with funding from Norwegian Agency for Development through Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa.
They had formed Community Action Teams in in Ngalu Bagbe community in Bo and East End of Freetown that have started contributing to the reduction of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in these communities.
Building the Capacity of Religious and Traditional Leaders in fighting for Gender Justice, Mr, Tamba Mackieu said is another method employed by their organization.
He said the Churches as well as the Mosques should serve as places where women, children and survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence can be a part of a supportive community where family lives and people’s future are important.
The day’s workshop was interactive and various inputs from religious and traditional leaders mapped the way forward with action plans that would mitigate the gender-based violence in the various communities.
The Community Action Teams and survivor champions taken from the two sample communities in Freetown and Bo were trained on how to engage men and boys on increasing their engagements to actively reflect on their own attitudes and values about gender transformation, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), supporting women and girls in their families and communities.
Reporting by Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally