The primary traditional leaders in Sierra Leone, consisting of the section Chiefs, Town Chiefs and other local community leaders including their related chiefdom administrative authorities have substantial power to influence attitudes, beliefs, practices and behaviour. They are often the first point of contact in their communities for resolving disputes including cases of violence against women and girls. However, most of these duty bearers have limited knowledge and awareness of the gender laws and how they are applied.
Since 2007, several gender laws and policies to address the problems of ‘violence
against women and girls’ has been enacted. These include – Domestic Violence Act; Devolution of Estates Act; Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act; Sexual Offenses Act 2012 (as amended); Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment policies etc.
Despite the achievements made so far in enacting these national legislation and policies including the setting-up related institutions to curb gender based violence, there had been no significant transformation in the manner which women and girls are treated by their male counterpart in their homes and communities – especially women and girls living in remote rural communities in Sierra Leone. Most men and even the women themselves do not know that there are laws that target the interpersonal behaviors and attitudes that violate women’s rights particularly at the household levels with regard to domestic violence, inheritance and property rights.
LEWAF will engage more strategically with the traditional leaders, administrative authorities and key stakeholders and service providers at community and national levels by directly working with them to take the lead in influencing broader social and behavior change. This will be done through providing structures trainings, research, advocacy, partnership and strategic collaboration. The aim is to advance understanding of the nature of Gender base violence and build basic knowledge and awareness on the gender laws including other related policies to support actions to prevent violence against women and girls in the homes and communities.