Sierra Leone


We are proud of our collaboration with women's rights organisations in Sierra Leone, where we have worked since 1992.

During this time we have supported the Women’s Partnership for Justice and Peace (WPJP) to change community attitudes and practices, and to reduce discrimination and violence against women through trainings that increase the knowledge of local authorities. Womankind has also partnered with the Women Against Violence and Exploitation Society (WAVES) to strengthen their organisational capacity and strategic objectives in line with the global goals.

Although Sierra Leone is not a current Womankind focus country, as our strategy is about working in greater depth to have the biggest impact possible, we continue to network, share learning and funding opportunities with our partners in Sierra Leone and we advocate at the international level, alongside and in solidarity with partners across our network.

Below are some highlights of how we have supported our women's rights partners in Sierra Leone:

Dealing with the Ebola crisis

From March 2014 to November 2015, Sierra Leone faced one of the deadliest outbreaks of Ebola in history, with more than 13,500 cases, and almost 4,000 deaths.

Women’s traditional role as caregivers to the young, sick and elderly put a huge burden on them and increased their risk of exposure. Discrimination and violence also increased.

Womankind’s three partners – Graceland Sierra Leone, Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society (WAVES), and Women’s Partnership for Justice and Peace (WPJP) – were part of the Ebola response by:

  • Raising awareness about how to prevent the virus
  • Providing counselling to women affected by the disease
  • Coordinating and sharing information with authorities to make sure they take women and girls’ needs into account when responding to the virus.

Helping women to help themselves

Despite a government programme to rebuild Sierra Leone after the war, women have largely been left to fend for themselves. Without state help, it’s women’s rights organisations like our partner Graceland helping women rebuild their lives.

With our support, Graceland:

  • Supported women survivors of violence and sexual abuse to access essential services and counselling, and get justice
  • Worked in four districts to help 400 women become economically independent
  • Helped rural women to set up women-only cooperatives, producing staple crops to eat and sell.
“Before I used to go to my family to ask for help to pay the school fees. But now I can afford them myself.” Mata, who has her own business thanks to a loan from Graceland

Supporting women to understand their rights

Sierra Leone has come a long way since the war, rebuilding its infrastructure, economy and society. Yet women’s traumatic experiences during the conflict go largely ignored.

Attempts to address women’s rights have been made through legislation. But women are still discriminated against and experience high levels of violence – particularly sexual assault.

With our support, our local partner WAVES:

  • Increased women’s awareness of the laws and services that protect their rights
  • Organised community consultations to address issues that matter to women
  • Trained women about the local court system works so they can use if effectively, particularly around violence against women, marriage, divorce, child development and women’s involvement in decision-making
  • Improved the justice system in communities
  • Supported women to earn their own livelihoods and forming village saving and lending associations
  • Set up groups of community members to promote safe schools for girls.
“Before WAVES’ intervention in my Section, there was a high level of violence against women. But with awareness of the different national and international instruments on women and children’s rights there has been a decline in cases reported to me, and they’re now minor ones. Thanks to WAVES for your timely intervention in our chiefdom.” Chieft Mandewa

Supporting women to tackle violence

Although the 1991 Sierra Leone constitution promises equal protection for women, it doesn’t cover marriage, divorce, burial and property.

Rural women in particular have little protection under the law. Customary laws, which are largely unwritten and often discriminate against women, are common in rural communities.

With Womankind’s support, our partner WPJP:

  • Helped introduce community laws on violence against women and abolish practices which discriminate against women
  • Supported women to earn their own living
  • Created safe spaces for women, women’s groups, microcredit groups, and school clubs to discuss and address violence
  • Broadcast radio programmes and ran community campaigns on women’s rights.
“I don’t think I could have survived without the help of WPJP because I had no money to look after my children. But now I have my own money which I control. Peace in my life is an important thing.”Fanta, who WPJP supported to leave her violent husband

Our impact in Sierra Leone

Thanks to our partnerships in Sierra Leone:

  • 1,500 pupils, teachers and community members have learned more about women’s rights.
  • 1,140 people have learned how to stop Ebola spreading.
  • 928 women and men have had counselling for trauma.
  • 1,080 female survivors of violence have had support to seek justice.
  • 30 community members have been trained as paralegals to help women.
  • One community has elected its first ever female village chief.

Find out more about our impact