by Kabinneh Binnet Kanneh
In a bid to minimize the high rate of Sexual and Gender Based Violence issues, early child marriage and sexually transmitted cases, a non-governmental organization called WOMEN IN CRISIS MOVEMENT (WICM) under the directorship of Rev. Mrs. Juliana Konteh has organized a one day sensitization engagement meeting for traditional leaders and community stakeholders in a bid to help sensitize their various communities about HIV/AIDS, early child marriage, sexual and gender based violence and sexually transmitted infection cases among others.
The meeting took place on 14th March 2023 at the Government Technical Institute (GTI), Kissy Dockyard in Freetown.
In her opening statement, Rev. Mrs. Juliana Konteh underscores that Global Fund has and still continue to finance and support her Movement to ensure that, ‘we break the stigma and silence on HIV/AIDS, reduce sexual and gender based violence in our communities and above all end early child marriage among our girls in our various communities.’ She further dilated on sexual and gender based violence, saying that cannot help our communities and nation to develop equally so early child marriage destroys the potentials of our girl child who are to be our future. She therefore called on all stakeholders and traditional leaders to help spread the information to their various community members.
She admonished all about violence especially so when the elections are around the corner. Mrs. Konteh said election should not be a do or die issue. You may have your various political parties at your heart but go out and exercise your franchise and do not engage in any form of violence since violence cannot help develop our community or nation. “Let us all embrace each other irrespective of our political allegiance,” she added.
Mr. Ibrahim Saidu, Programme Manager for Women In Crisis Movement dilated on the purpose, goals, objectives and overview of the New Funding Model 3 Grant (NFMG) 2021-2024 signed between their Movement and Global Fund through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Integrated Health Project Administration Unit (IHPAU).
Mr. Saidu said the New Funding Model 3 Grant comes from Global Fund based in Geneva. Being the principal recipient, the fund goes to the Health Ministry as a grant and government does not pay interest but only contribute a small amount and in return are being monitored by the country’s coordinating mechanism. The government in return passes on the grant to the Integrated Health Project Administration Unit (IHPAU) who is responsible to sign all contracts with their implementing partners to ensure Global Fund three key objectives namely; Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Malaria activities are being carried out effectively.
Women In Crisis Movement, Mr. Saidu said, they signed contract with Global Fund through IHPAU on two tranches. First contract was signed on 1st July 2021-30th June 2022. Second contract was signed from July 2022 to 30th June 2023.
Dilating further, Mr. Saidu said the main purpose of the meeting is to ensure that participants are being target to discuss programmes related to sexual gender based violence, early child marriage that serve as barriers to the uptake of HIV and Tuberculosis services.
The goals for the meeting Mr. Saidu said, is to enable reduce human rights related barriers to HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. To reduce SGBV including early child marriage, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among key populations which are the focus of Women in Crisis Movement operations to build sustainable coordination effort amongst key stakeholders in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria.
Mrs. Fatmata Tucker, head of Complaint Desk at Women In Crisis Movement told stakeholders that the main objective for calling up such meeting is to help address the issue of HIV since the virus is on the increase, adding that the culture of stigma and silence need to stop for us to live a healthy life in our communities and those with the virus should not be willful carriers.
Inspector Michael Mbenteh head of the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police at Kissy Dockyard thanked Women In Crisis Movement for the funds they have provided to help in the sensitization of early child marriage, sexual gender based violence which are the main focus of the FSU since these issues have been an impediment to the growth of society and the slow development of our society and the destruction of the future of our girl child.
He spoke on many treaties signed by both the government of Sierra Leone with the international partners that people need to be aware of and if people are found guilty, they will serve jail terms. He admonished the chiefs and other stakeholders not to condole SGBV cases in their communities but always report to the police for action.
Financial arrangements for the one hundred participants climaxed the meeting.