Ministry of Defense / Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (MOD/RSLAF), Office of Gender and Equal Opportunities

With the objective of strengthening institutional capacity to mainstream gender and women's issues into MOD/RSLAF structures and operations, and increasing the participation of female personnel in decision making and leadership within the MOD/RSLAF, respectively; in 2012 WIPSEN-Africa implemented the following projects as part of the second and final phase of the project all of which I played an integral part in achieving.


·         Trainings on advanced negotiation, leadership, and gender analysis and gender mainstreaming with male and female members of the MOD/RSLAF, took place from January through to February.  

·         Annual Reflection and Stocktaking Forum held in April, was a one day forum dedicated to highlight the achievements, review milestones, challenges, and lessons learned by the MoD/RSLAF in their gender mainstreaming process. In addition, the involvement of security sector personnel (especially female personnel) from Mano River Union countries of Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia.


The overall project was very successful as an analysis of the training and Annual Reflection and Stocktaking Forum evaluations revealed:

·         Before the training, only 45% said their understanding of leadership was good  or excellent. After the training, 89% said their understanding of leadership is good or excellent.

·         Before the training, only 38% said their level of confidence to communicate with senior officials good or excellent. After the training, 93% believe that their level of confidence to communicate with senior officials is good or excellent.

·         96% found that their understanding of effective persuasion and advocacy has increased after the training.

·         Before the training, only 20% found their understanding of applying gender differences to policy development and decision making processes good or excellent. After the training, 93% found their understanding of applying gender differences to policy development and decision-making processes good or excellent.


March 8th International Women's Day Conference

In marking the 104th International Women's Day celebration, WIPSEN-Africa, funded by the Gbowee Peace Foundation, held a one day intergenerational dialogue between women leaders and young women from schools across Ghana.  The day was entitled "Taking a Step" symbolizing the step that young girls were taking into the women's movement

The agenda for the day was a combination of testimonials from women leaders, activists, and feminists from across Ghana, dialogue between the young girls' and the women leaders, and group work.  As a way of fostering critical thinking in the young girls who participated in the event, series of case studies on social issues were devised for discussion by the girls during the event.  In an attempt to continue this critical thinking, students were asked to identify one social issue in their community and design and implement a program to address it.  The winning program will be given $500 during 2013's March 8th celebration for their work. 



·         Students showed up from 5 different regions

·         Students showed enthusiasm and interest in the women's movement and carrying out community wide projects.

·         Women leaders were impressed by the caliber of the students who participated and the organization of the program as a whole.


Young Girls Transformative Project Liberia: Nimba and Lofa Counties 2012

The Young Girls Transformative Project began its 5th year by engaging young girls and community women to be mentors in Nimba and Lofa counties.  The following activities were completed as part of the project:


·         A new basic demographic/human rights topical knowledge questionnaire was created for use during community-wide needs assessment which is one of the first steps of the program.

·         A number of intergenerational dialogues were held in the targeted areas.

·         Leadership training was held in Gbarnga where 6 mentors and 30 young girls were trained.


·         The energy and enthusiasm of the girls who were trained was amazing! The entire WIPSEN-Africa team felt privileged to have been a part of this process as it is evident that all the girls will go far.


5th Annual West African Women's Policy Forum

The 5th West African Women's Policy Forum was held in Freetown on the 5th and 6th of November. As its 5th year in existence the forum's theme "Consolidating our strategies for enhanced women's engagement in political discourse in West Africa" aimed to revisit and emphasize the recommendations and policies that have arisen due to the conference.  Over 60 women leaders, activists, and feminists from across the continent attended the forum and a number of pertinent recommendations and strategies were shared over the two days of the conference.


·         Local Sierra Leonean women turned out in their numbers to participate in the  forum.

·         The opinions of young West African women leaders under age 30 were integral to the discussion due to a number of carefully designed topics and opportunities for dialogue.

·         Based on the evaluations handed out at the end of the forum, participants thoroughly gained from the forum taking with them concrete strategies to implement in their countries and increase women's political participation.

·         The importance of WAWEO as an instrument to gain regional recognition of and bringing attention to the women's agenda was confirmed. 



During the 3rd West African Women's Policy Forum, it was decided that an effective way to promote women's political participation would be through the formation of a women only election observation team.  In 2012 WAWEO members were successfully deployed in both Ghana and Sierra Leone during their presidential and parliamentary elections that took place in November and December respectively.


·         Both missions were highly successful in observing the elections and the manner in which Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean women participated during the period.

·         Our observers were very enthusiastic about the work, and this was evident to all individuals as our observers were often first at the polling stations and the last ones to leave at each location they observed.

·         The entire concept of a women's election observation team was extremely well received.