THE CHALLENGE FOR GIRLS

Girls are falling out of the education system and sporting activities everyday due to the many challenges that they face.

Here we have tried to summarise a few of the main challenges facing girls in our host communities, and the action(s) we take from a programming perspective or recommend from an advocacy context. 


 
 

THE ACTION

SPORT FOR THERAPY 

Put simply, sport and creative enrichment can help enable young victims to develop skills, strength and confidence - and unblock pathways to the future they deserve.

It is widely acknowledged that through inclusivity and sport we can achieve outcomes that cross frontiers. We believe that all of our beneficiaries feel strong and more ready to take on the challenges ahead of them.   

 

Child Protection Inter-Agency Approach 

It is essential that girls are allowed to grow and develop, learn and be happy  - free from any stigma regardless of their circumstances.  

 

We also recognise the need for emotional support and can connect social workers to provide qualified psycho-social support.  

In consultation with child-protection agencies we ensure that all of our staff are regularly trained to the highest standards possible for child safeguarding and protection.

We regularly teach beneficiaries how to stay away from harm or abuse using the NSPCC's PANTS framework and teaching resources.

​​​

 

 
 

THE CHALLENGE

Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Transactional Sex

 

THE CHALLENGE

PERIOD POVERTY

Everyday there are girls starting their periods.  Due to extreme poverty and the taboo of menstruation girls miss out. On average, a teenage girl will miss at least 50 days of school every year because of their period.

Participation in physical activity and sport become a distant dream for many girls once they've hit puberty. 

According to a study by UNICEF in 2012 'In Sierra Leone, UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, examined menstrual hygiene management in schools in six rural districts. The research revealed that while the majority of female students interviewed believe that menstruation is a normal part of growing up, 21.3 per cent report that they miss school when they have their menstrual periods. Nearly one third of girls also reported that they prefer not to stand up in the classroom to answer questions when they have their periods...'   

 

THE ACTION

We want to ensure that no girls are held back from class or sport because of a period. When a girl is enabled to participate, she is confident, more independent and without unnecessary barriers.

Period Kits 

We work with agencies and cluster partners to provide period kits to all of our female beneficiaries upon enrolment.

Education

Working with families, we provide PSHE themed sessions that are gender, culturally and age appropriate to ensure that understanding periods is not taboo for any girl or boy.

WASH Management on-site

Adequate WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) is intrinsic to the physical infrastructure of our programmes. Functioning latrines that not only provide privacy but are also gender appropriate are essential to mitigating unnecessary absences.   

Help enable a girl to participate.

Donate just £10 and you could provide a girl with clean sanitary products for a whole year.

 

THE CHALLENGE

CAREGIVING 

Many girls drop out of continued learning and sport completely to carry the burden of caregiving from as early as puberty, often even younger.

 

LOW LIFE EXPECTANCY

There are many reasons why child caregivers are a regular feature in Sierra Leone - many orphaned as a result of the low life expectancy which is among the lowest in the world.  By 2017 the average life expectancy at birth was only 52/54 (World Health Organisation, 2019). Despite best efforts from overseas aid agencies to fill gaps, under-development and low GDP markedly restrict access to care-services and support for orphaned children.

 

THE ACTION

We work with local partners, social workers and families to identify the most vulnerable.  This is why we foster a comprehensive intake of beneficiaries that adapts to the demographical variances of the community.  

We mandate many children to the programme who are responsible for dependants and also provide a safe space for younger siblings to thrive, so that no child is left behind. 

 

THE CHALLENGE

THE IMPACT OF EBOLA

During the 2014 Ebola crisis, girls and older children were left caring for younger siblings with no surviving adult relatives to turn to.  Some village populations in entirety were affected as the disease ravaged through communities. The year-long quarantine left survivors isolated, banned from of any movement to travel, visit relatives, or attend school and trade. With no adult relatives or access to protection networks, many young girls became victims of sexual violence.  

Already stigmatised as 'ebola orphans', girls became disenfranchised from class due to the stigma of childhood and teen pregnancy - some forced to marry their abuser. 

 

THE ACTION

We strive to provide a safe, protected environment for orphaned children, young carers and victims of abuse.

CHILD PROTECTION INTER-AGENCY APPROACH

It is essential that girls are allowed to grow and develop, learn and be happy  - free from any stigma regardless of their circumstances.  We also recognise the need for emotional support and can connect social workers to provide qualified psycho-social support.  

 

In consultation with child-protection agencies we ensure that all of our staff are regularly trained to the highest standards possible for child safeguarding and protection.

We regularly teach beneficiaries how to stay away from harm or abuse using the NSPCC's PANTS framework and teaching resources.

INCLUSIVITY 

It is widely acknowledged that through inclusivity and sport we can achieve outcomes that cross frontiers. We believe that all of our beneficiaries feel strong and ready to take on the challenges ahead of them in the wider community as a result of their participation in sport, access to literacy, and creative expression. 

 

THE CHALLENGE

Civil War - A Lost Generation

Most of the adult population are barely literate if at all - this is particularly endemic up-country, beyond the hustle of the predominantly Krio speaking Freetown Peninsular.

 

Women are particularly affected by the generational deficit that devastated infrastructure during the conflict of the 1990's, the so called 'blood diamond' war.  Whilst government policy has taken great strides in recent years to make education compulsory to primary level, the cross-generational impact of the war continues to greatly affect social mobility. Sadly, girls living in households where parents are illiterate are far less likely to make it through primary education.  

 

THE ACTION

BREAKING THE DEFICIT IN ADULT LITERACY

We recognise the need to break the cycle of illiteracy also extends to adult literacy, so we widened our programme to offer free access to adult literacy workshops for all of our beneficiary parents. 

 

THE CHALLENGE

Restricted Access to Land and Property Ownership

Existing and traditional barriers to ownership rights and decision-making is indicative of a patrilineal system that unfairly discriminates against women, who tend to take on more traditional domestic roles. Many Communities in Sierra Leone and West Africa are customarily underpinned by norms where these trends are deeply embedded within society. There is a strong correlation between restriction to land and ownership rights and pathways to positions of leadership - trends often associated with illiteracy and poor gender-parity.

 

THE ACTION

SOFT POWER FROM THE GRASSROOTS - THE SKILLS TO CHAMPION CHANGE

We want our beneficiaries to feel enabled to forge pathways that are underpinned by our core values -

Equality Opportunity. 

Through a participatory approach to programme delivery,  and inclusivity in delivering sport and literacy in the community, girls [and boys] gain the currency and language skills to negotiate and persuade as adults.

Alongside inclusivity in sport many of our enrichment sessions involve scenario based drama, art, music and creative skills to teach our beneficiaries about gender and leadership, assertion and confidence to influence positive ways of doing things in their own communities. We believe that access to these skills, in addition to the impact of the mainstream education sector over the past few years, will enable young people to steward their own lives, fully equipped into adulthood as equals in society. 

We also believe that inspiration is intrinsic to getting our beneficiaries to engage, so we regularly invite female role models from positions of leadership to participate with, and deliver our activities.

Our ethos fosters a culture that enables female strength, so we hope that many of our beneficiaries can become decision-makers whatever they choose to achieve,  and to champion values that recognise the contribution of boys and girls as equally capable individuals. We believe it is these values that can lead to the fair distribution of rights and more balanced attribution of roles in their lives and communities. 

 
 

THE CHALLENGE

Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking 

Each year, thousands of Sierra Leoneans – including children – are trafficked for forced labour or sexual exploitation in and outside Sierra Leone. Many go on the so-called ‘Temple Run’ to escape poverty, falling victim to traffickers who demand as much as USD 2,500 for fake educational or employment opportunities. (UN, March 2020

According to UNHCR, Sierra Leone is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Traffickers recruit victims largely from rural provinces to urban and mining centers for exploitation in sex trafficking and forced labor in domestic service, artisanal diamond and granite mining, petty trading, portering, making ceramics, rock breaking, quarrying, street crime, and begging. Traffickers exploit victims in fishing and agriculture, and sex trafficking or forced labor through customary practices, such as forced marriages.

Traffickers typically operate individually, convincing parents to hand over their children and promising to provide an education or better life but instead exploiting the children in trafficking. Children from neighbouring West African countries have been exploited in forced begging, forced labor, and sex trafficking in Sierra Leone, and Sierra Leonean children are taken to Mali, Niger, and increasingly Guinea for forced labor and sex trafficking.

 

An increasing number of traffickers, including family members, tried to sell Sierra Leonean children for domestic servitude.

 

Sierra Leonean-Kuwaiti trafficking networks increasingly fraudulently recruit Sierra Leoneans for education in Europe and the United States but subject them to domestic servitude in Kuwait.  

 

Traffickers also exploit Sierra Leonean women in domestic servitude in Egypt and Lebanon.

An international organisation recently repatriated at least 186 Sierra Leoneans from Libya, some of whom were victims of slavery and sex trafficking. It also reported that some Libyan soldiers sold stranded Sierra Leonean migrants in their custody to Libyan and Middle Eastern traffickers. (RefWorld, June 2018)

THE ACTION

Three Tier Inter-Agency Approach  - Mitigate,  Co-operate,  Eliminate 

Multi-causal factors including poverty and illiteracy leave extremely vulnerable to trafficking and modern slavery.  

Our programmes  are designed to promote a holistic syllabus of child protection and safeguarding, equality and fostering aspiration and opportunity to mitigate these common risks and reduce exposure to vulnerabilities.  Through education of risks with all our beneficiaries, and the advocacy of strong child protection practices in our communities we want to see an end to these harms. 

As part of our child protection alert system, our staff are trained to identify risks to our beneficiaries and  co-operated with local protection services and partner NGO's to safeguard against trafficking and modern slavery.  

Our team of local staff are present within the programme communities to work with and consult families and wider community networks, to provide a robust framework of protection and prevention against risks. 

We provide or help facilitate through specialist services appropriate psycho-social support to beneficiaries suffering from trauma, as well as working with victims of trauma and families to provide additional enrichment and literacy support through our programmes that we believe help lead to better life options. 

Follow Us

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Policies

Contact Us

Girls In Sport

Registered Charity in England & Wales: 1175997

©2019 Girls in Sport UK and Sierra Leone