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Sierra Leone takes Husband School to British Parliament

By Mohamed Konneh

The Husband school project for the very first time was introduced in the British parliament. The husband school project is implemented by Fambul Initiative Network for Equality (FINE-SL) WITH Reverend George Buanni as it founder and Coordinator.

Speaking at the British Parliament during the introduction Reverend Buanni told the British parliament my organization do -engaging men in Women’s Health and Rights in Sierra Leone.

Reverend George Buanni at the British Parliament

He said in Sierra Leone we run the Husband School and have recently partnered with VSO, the British International Development Charity which works through volunteers, who support the Husband School (HS).

Fambul Initiative Network for Equality was established in 2010 a local NGO working on SDG 3&5. The strategy is a learning hub where men are engaged to deepen their knowledge/understanding the role in preventing, and Responding to SGBV.

“WE make it possible for MEN’s full involvement in promoting Women SRH & Rights including access to justice. Still one of world’s poorest performers on Gender Equality, Sierra Leone continue to grapple with a highly patriarchal and male dominant society – communities upholding HTP, while Child marriage is at 39%; FGM is 90% and that Teenage Pregnancy is very rampant, and that of 45% of intimate spousal violence’ he said.

Reverend Buanni said SGBV is prevalent in Schools, Communities and at HH based on systemic inequality, power dynamics and pervasive discretionary social and cultural norms.

The civil war ended in 2001 but there is an ongoing war against women and girls in the form of SEA Sexual harassment of women and girls at all levels of society including educational institutions, the right reverend noted.

Maternal mortality is still one of the highest in the world, the equivalent of 8 unnecessary deaths daily. This is unacceptable Reverend Boani told the British Parliament.

‘The Country I come from also experienced the outbreak of the Ebola Virus which affected the education system but also exposed the weak health system of our country. Again women and girls were disproportionately affected- as many died in child bearing in the hands of Traditional Births Attendant (TBAs)-untrained, ill-equipped and operate in non-clinical environment as they were too scared to visit the clinics. The origins of my work in men’s engagement: Why do I Work with Men? In 2011 UNFPA grant to research on Which organization was doing what and where?

In 2013, 3 years into our work, FINE won the Global Resolve Award on Reproductive Health as a unique initiative on improving Women’s health & Rights.

He said the Husband School was to get men to think about domestic violence in the context of their mother, daughter or sister. SGBV is not only a personal or family thing; it is a community thing and concern.

“We asked several question including how many have ever beating a woman or used strong words/ language that tortures her mentally/psychologically demoralizes her.

How many women do you know in this community are known for beating their husbands versus how many men are known to be doing the same?

Reverend Buanni also noted that working with Communities have yielded fruits noting that training is done for community male volunteers sign MoU and develop community By-Laws and monitor implementation and enforcement; establish and strengthen robust SGBV response and prevention structures.

He said over 6,000 Men have graduated from the Husband School since 2015 with 40 Husband School in 2 districts.

725 Men trained as MAPEs Officers put at community disposal to promote Women’s health and rights across 7 chiefdoms in two districts of our operations with VSO.

Fambul Initiative Network for Equality (FINE-SL) is a Non-Governmental Organization established in 2010 & registered in 2011 as an NGO with the Government of Sierra Leone. It was established as a means for engaging Men & Boys to address issues of gender inequality & violence against women & girls in society. With support from UNFPA and Volunteer Services Overseas-VSO, FINE-SL is operating countrywide implementing Male-Led approach programmes with other development partners building community-based resilience through Volunteering focusing on SDGs 3&5 Outcomes.

The organization has over 1,000 trained, equipped male gender and rights advocates and peer educators in all operational locations. FINE-SL Male advocates and Peer educators are effectively monitoring health facilities, health service delivery institutions, and SGBV through awareness raising and sensitization campaigns

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