Hope was honoured to be in the presence of many strong women leaders at yesterdays' UK Diaspora Forum organized by the Not In My Name coalition in the UK's House of Commons, with a focus on womens and girls rights.
Meeting in the Mother of Parliaments there were wide-ranging discussions about the role of women in tackling violence against the girl child in Sierra Leone and the steps men can take to speak out and help our sisters stop those traditional practices which are now proven harmful to children, such as child marriage and cutting (FGM) and we are looking forward to campaigning with Not In My Name this upcoming February 6th to make this the year to discourage these harmful practices once and for all.
There were also informative discussions led by presenting speakers.
Mariama Oni (Smiling thru Light) working to provide clean energy in Sierra Leone talked about the importance of involving girls in innovation, entrepeneurship and STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mecahnics) as a catylst for social change.
Dr Comfort Momoh, OBE, discussed the impact of high rates of teenage pregancy and HIV infection arising from sexual violence and urged a comprehensive approach to women and girls health.
Madam Hawa D Sesay (Hawa Trust) talked about the challenges NGO's face on the ground and Mrs Sia Nyandemo, founder of the Sickle Cell Carers Awareness Network(SCCAN) explained the urgent need to screen for sickle cell which affects 50% of the Sierra Leone population to prevent increased burdens of our health system.
UK Parliamentarians attending the event included the Honorable Kate Osamor, MP and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development who spoke powerfully about the role of politicans in tackling violence against women and girls in Sierra Leone and Jeremy Lefroy, MP, chair of the Human Rights Joint Committe, kind host of the event and someone who spoke from his experiences visiting Sierra Leone.