SIERRA LEONE: ILO, UNCDF & Partners Promote GBV Awareness in W4WP Project

Stephen V Lansana
4 min readDec 4, 2023


The International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and collaborative partners conducted a three-day awareness campaign on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in five project communities in Freetown from November 29th to December 1st, 2023. This initiative was part of the 16 Days of Activism under the Women for Water & Peace (W4WP) Project.

Funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (UNPBF) through the Gender Promotion Initiative, the joint project, “Women for Water and Peace,” empowers young women in five Freetown Wards (Mayinkineh, Rokupa, Dwarzark, Lumley, and Crab Town, Aberdeen). The project supports the construction and management of twenty-five water kiosks with solar-powered purification systems, providing clean water to vulnerable communities in a conflict-sensitive manner.

The project aims to enable women and girls to take leadership roles in preventing conflicts related to water scarcity. ILO leads awareness activities against GBV in the project communities under the theme: “Unite! Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls.”

Implementing partners include the Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC), the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), the Sierra Leone Employers’ Federation (SLEF), the Institute for Legal Research and Advocacy for Justice (ILRAJ), and the Federation of Urban and Rural Poor (FEDURP).

During her statements, the National Project Coordinator for the W4WP-ILO, Mrs. Sia Lajaku-Williams, emphasized addressing violence during water scarcity and creating awareness of Gender-Based Violence. The project also empowers women by establishing water kiosks managed by women in different communities to address water-related GBV.

Madam Lajaku-Williams stressed the collective responsibility to raise awareness during the 16 days of activism on GBV, concluding with a call for Sierra Leoneans to unite against Gender-Based Violence.

In her statement, Desrica Taylor from WANEP emphasized that GBV affects both women and men. She encouraged women to report any incidents, cautioning them to be vigilant at night due to safety concerns in Freetown. She also urged women to play their role as mothers in their homes by encouraging their children, especially the girl child, to focus on their academic work and set good examples for their children to emulate.

Fatima Ashmia Forna from ILRAJ informed beneficiaries about laws addressing GBV, including the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 and its 2019 amendment, the Domestic Violence Act. She urged parents not to settle GBV matters privately and highlighted the Child Rights Act, discouraging abusive treatment of children.

Fonnah concluded by celebrating the Gender Equality Act (GEWE) signed this year by President Bio, emphasizing women’s equal participation in all aspects of life, marking a significant shift from past discrimination.

Gloria Kpaka from the Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC) delved into the importance of labor law and how it protects and maintains employer and employee relationships. She further stated that the law specifically protects employees who are being sexually harassed in their workplace. She concluded that one of the ways to reduce gender-based violence in our communities is through sensitization and awareness raising; spreading the information by word of mouth and through women’s empowerment.

At the climax of each session in the five project communities, participants were allowed to ask questions or make their contributions.

The first contributor, who did not mention her name, stated that she is concerned about violence against children, noting witnessing numerous instances of child abuse in the community. She called on participants to deviate from child abuse and appealed to community members to implement what they had learned from the engagement.

Another contribution made by a community member was an appeal to young ladies to choose their spouses wisely, emphasizing that the lifestyle and family they choose to entertain will reflect on them.

Another member recommended that wives should submit to their husbands, emphasizing the importance of peace in homes. Another member pointed out the growing sexual harassment that women face, stating that men often demand sexual favors before providing job opportunities or connections.

Lastly, another member expressed concern about lacking faith in the justice system, citing bias towards the rich over the poor based on her own experience.

Members of the high table responded to some of the concerns raised by participants.

Hellen Pearce from ILRAJ reaffirmed the impartiality of the justice system in Sierra Leone and urged them to report any incidents of gender-based violence in their communities to the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police.

The event ended with a commitment pledge to end gender-based violence by the participants in five communities.

By Mustapha Momoh



Stephen V Lansana

Stephen V. Lansana is a Sierra Leonean Journalist who work for Premier News, a subsidiary of Premier Media Group Ltd. Stephen writes on Health & Human Rights