International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 all around the world. Every year, the occasion puts spotlight on women’s accomplishments, increases awareness of women’s rights, and advocates for gender equality and equity.
International Women’s Day is a perfect moment to recognise women making a difference, breaking the bias and thriving amidst COVID-19 and climate change threats.
In Sierra Leone, women have come a long way to ensure gender divide is bridged. They are proving the common belief that ‘the woman’s place is in the Kitchen’ and ‘women’s education ends in the kitchen’ wrong. Women in Sierra Leone are making a difference and they are treading on grounds that are traditionally reserved for our male counterparts.
This women’s day we want to acknowledge four women from Sierra Leone who are making a difference in the sector of mental health, agriculture, women’s advocacy and supporting girls, and sports/communications.
Sheryl D Carew.
A poet, writer, Sexual and Reproductive Health Advocate, and Peer Educator Sheryl D Carew is the CEO of a nonprofit organization called Safe Space, established in 2019. Her organization is committed to Shattering Sierra Leone’s Institutionalised, and entrenched culture of silence. It has been speaking up on taboos on a national scale.
These issues revolve around Reproductive and sexual health, women and girls’ rights and freedom, gender-based violence, cyber harassment, representative and leadership, corruption, gender quality, education, and capacity for economic growth on a national scale among other imperative social agendas.
Rugiatu Favor Kanu.
28-years-old Rugiatu Favor Kanu is the Founder of Slay Farmer. She envisions leading the next generation of women into farming. She owns 10 acres of farmland that serves as a demonstration farm for women in Sierra Leone. She uses her farm to teach other young girls and encourage them to own a farm.
Presently, she works with the Sierra Leone Produce and Monitoring Board as the quality control coordinator. ‘’I am passionate about farming and working towards proving to the world that you can do anything and still be a successful farmer,” she says.
The high rate of drug abuse, collective traumas from Ebola, Covid-19, Mudslide, and fire outbreaks have contributed greatly to the rise of mental health issues in Sierra Leone. Jennifer Duncan is passionately leading the fight against Mental Health at one of the biggest hospitals in Sierra Leone
Jennifer is the head of the Mental and psycho-social Unit at Connaught Hospital. She works with people affected by mild to chronic mental health issues. She is passionate about her work and has worked with over five thousand people in Sierra Leone. She says, ‘’Development can only be actualized when mental wellbeing of all is pursued and actualized.’’
Jennifer works with other nurses and organizations to ensure that caregivers are mentally healthy while facing moments of sickness and death.
Esther Marie Samura.
Esther is an enthusiastic young sports journalist and female commentator; one of three in West Africa. Early this year, she found her way to the seat of commentating and analyzing the 2021 African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Football Commentary and sports analyst professions are male-dominated in Sierra Leone and West Africa as a whole. “As a young woman, it is a joy for me to find myself in this unique position that many women are shying away from,” she says.
In 2017, Esther was awarded best Broadcast journalist of the Year by the National Entertainment awards, she has also been recognized as Best Football commentator.
Esther started her career as a child broadcaster and advocate with children Forum Network broadcasting at Radio Mount Aureole 107.3 She later moved to sky Radio106.6 where she became a reporter. She is a journalist at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.
Eleanor is a field officer on Restless Development Financial Inclusion for Women Living in Informal Settlement Project in Sierra Leone. She has completed 1 year internship as Communication Intern at Restless Development Sierra Leone. She believes in women empowerment and works to ensure that women have a voice in society.