18 August 2017

In Celebration of 1 year of campaigning: Not in My Name Sierra Leone

Where we began:

The Not In My Name coalition was formed in August of 2016  by leading campaigners and women’s and girls’ rights organizations. The joint partnership between these organizations calls for the elimination of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) in Sierra Leone, including by introducing a ban on this human rights violation as a matter of urgency. The platform was sparked by the recent death of a 19-year-old girl during her initiation into Bondo Society and has resulted in an outpouring of opinions and emotions in support of the complete elimination of FGM. The coalition aims to capitalize and act on these needs to ensure a permanent change within Sierra Leonean communities. The Not In My Name coalition will help to advocate for stronger laws and policies to protect and promote the rights of women and girls in Sierra Leone, communicate information on the harmfulness of FGM and galvanize a community of activists, policymakers and other allies to confront these issues in our society. 

FGM affects 88% of women and girls in Sierra Leone and over 200 million women and girls around the world. It has no health benefits and is an extreme form of violence and discrimination. Since our launch up until now we have engaged both digitally as well as in Sierra Leone and the diaspora and have positioned the platform to be the only multicultural, multidisciplinary anti-FGM platform focused on Sierra Leone.  There have been many challenges since the beginning of NIMN, but the campaigners have found ways to address these challenges in order to continue the constant and tireless efforts in banning FGM in Sierra Leone. To date the campaign has grown to over 100 members and counting with key leading activist organizations Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM), Self Help And Development Everywhere ( SHADE), Girl to Girl Empowerment Movement (G2G), Girls Empowerment Summit Sierra Leone (GESSL), Praise Foundation, Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society (WAVES), Coin a child campaign, Graceland Sierra Leone, Women Center for Good governance and development Foundation, Women Yearning for Equal Rights (WOYER), Voice for the Voiceless, Community Initiative program (CIP), Tamareneh Gender Development Association, Action for community Transformation (ACT), Advocacy Movement Network (Amnet) and international human rights organizations Project ACEi and Equality Now. It hopes to draw the support of many more as the campaign continues.

Where we are:

With a compelling case to present on the impact of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM) on women and girls in Sierra Leone and with widespread support across the country calling for change, we are determined to continue our mission. Part of our advocacy over the last year has involved; helping to communicate information to communities using social media platforms on the impact of harmful practices by galvanizing community of activists, lobbying policymakers and other allies to confront these issues in our society, advocating for strongerlaws to protect women and girls in our society.

Below is a review of the coalition’s progress to date and our immediate and long-term goals:

August -October 2016

  • In the first quarter, the coalition with its dynamic group of grassroots Sierra Leonean organizations set out to support community efforts engaging community change agents.
  • Our coalition grew from 6 original organizations to 16 organizations.
  • Our leadership team launch a public education campaign themed LehWeTok with distribution of colourful posters dispelling myths.
  • Coalition members using effective media platforms to tell their own stories of best practice.
  • In reshaping the debate coalition partners encourage the creation of user generated content hashtag #NotInMyName
  • Amongst many sensitizations activities within communities the NIMN was interviewed by several leading radio stations across the country.
  • Popular celebrities joining the platform using personal Facebook Live interviews.
  • Hundreds of school children mostly girls with the support of coalition partners that are leading girls’ empowerment created short videos to be used in schools.
  • Hosted Live Twitter Chats with Human Rights experts 

November 2016 –  February 2017

  • The whole of November NIMN worked with men to seek the views of addressing concerns they have around the increasing rates of violations of women and girls’ rights.
  • In December 2016, several coalition partners were in the USA to attend the US EndFGM Summit.
  • Not In My Name in collaboration with Hawa Trust Foundation Sierra Leone, hosted four Schools in a community outreach reach program on FGM.
  • Coalition hosted its International Forum. The aim of the Forum was to seek the views of the UK Diaspora on addressing a series of concerns around the increasing rates of violations of women and girls’ rights.
  • Coalition partners GESSL delivered social media training on effective advocacy
  • Zero tolerance  a massive success\
  • Not In My Name has been nominated for an AWOL award for our campaign.  
  • Girls Empowerment Summit Sierra Leone members hosted a Social Media campaign training for NIMN members, tools and strategies for engaging audience were shared.

Where we are headed:

It is the goal of the campaign to continue building a base of activists focused on ending FGM with a focus on Sierra Leone. With efforts from Activists in Sierra Leone and the diaspora we have made some key strides and continue to advocate on the policy level as well.  Recently campaigners developed a written statement to the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone with a plea and a call to his attention on the various FGM issues in the country. To date the letter is yet to be acknowledged or addressed by His Excellency. The goal of NIMN is to collectively continue to strategise proactive measures to respond to the issues of FGM in Sierra Leone whilst also strategically advocating on the policy level.