World Vision pledges support to ending early marriage in Sierra Leone
(Freetown Sierra Leone, 22 August 2016) Following the recent launch of the African Union’s Campaign to end early marriage in Sierra Leone by his excellency the Vice President, Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh and First Lady, Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma of the republic of Sierra Leone, World Vision is pledging its unreserved support to the government of Sierra Leone, especially the office of the first Lady and the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs.
Lilian Dodzo, World Vision Sierra Leone’s Interim National Director had this to say about child marriage: “Child marriage has gained increasing prominence on international and national development agendas. Today, we have a unique opportunity to act on this momentum and accelerate our efforts to help change the lives of girls and young women all over the world.
Ending child marriage requires work across all sectors and at all levels. It requires us to understand the complex drivers behind the practice in different contexts and adapt our interventions accordingly, and World Vision Sierra Leone is taking a lead, in partnership with government and other strategic partners to address this”.
‘’World Vision is committed to ending all forms of violations and violence against children in all its manifestations and entirety,’’ says Mattia Dimoh, World Vision Sierra Leone’s Operations Director.
The launch of this campaign correlates with World Vision International’s Global Campaign to end all forms of violence and abuse against children—including early marriage which is one of the commonest forms of child right violations in Sierra Leone.
For the past twenty years , World Vision has been doing relief and development work in Sierra Leone, with a focus on children and their protection. Currently World Vision has Child Protection as one of its priority sectors for developing communities in Sierra Leone.
In Sierra Leone, UNICEF studies have it that over 10 per cent of girls are married before age 15. And over 30 per cent are married before age 18. For World Vision, this is too huge a percentage, which is why it is pledging its unreserved support to this cause.
During the early periods of the global campaign which started with a Girls Summit in the U.K. two children from within World Vision’s operational area in Bonthe District were supported to represent the children of West Africa.
Prior to the launch on 17th August 2016, World Vision was pleased to be an integral part of the preparations by coordinating the Girls Summit in the southern region of Sierra Leone, as assigned by the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs.
The Sierra Leone government has been a worthy partner in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone and, for World Vision, it continues to be a worthy partner as we join hands alongside other development partners to put an end to the barbaric practice of early and forced marriage.
Moving forward, WV wishes to make the following recommendation (s): Customary Marriage and Divorce Act state the age of consent for marriage is 16 whereas the Child Rights Act states 18 being the age of consent. In as much as World Vision pledges its support, it also calls: for the speedy harmonization of laws and policies with regards early marriage in Sierra Leone; inclusion of children in every step of the way during this ever ending campaign; invest in robust community engagements and working with our religious leaders who played vital roles in bringing Ebola to its very end in Sierra Leone; criminalization of early marriage.
OUR OPERATION IN-COUNTRY
World Vision has been operating in Sierra Leone since March 1996, and is currently active in 25 Area Development Programmes in 30 chiefdoms within four Districts (Bo, Kono, Pujehun and Bonthe), with about 58,000 sponsored children. Our strategic priorities are in Education, Livelihoods, Child Protection, Health and Nutrition, .
For further contact:
Available for interview in Freetown:
Lilian Dodzo, Interim National Director WVSL
Mattia Koi Dimoh, Operations Director, WVSL
To arrange an interview, contact:
Sahr Ngaujah, Communications Officer, WVSL
Mobile: +232 (0) 76-609-251
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.