Girl Child Network (GCN) is a National Non-Governmental network that seeks to promote the rights and holistic empowerment of the girl child in the home, school and community in Sierra Leone. Anita Koroma and her team established GCN in Sierra Leone in 1998 modeled after work done in Zimbabwe.
GCN seeks to empower girls by sending them to school and supporting their talents. GCN also works to increase children’s rights, sexual reproductive health including menstrual hygiene; to alleviate harmful cultural practices such as FGM/C and child marriage; gender-based violence (GBV); sexual abuse; rehabilitation of victims; sports; arts and culture.
GCN supports and promotes holistic empowerment of girls in the home, school and community and builds platforms to advance their rights and freedom so that they reach their full potential.
GCN ensures that girls at risk and most vulnerable to abuse are rescued and empowered to speak out and through provision of safe shelter, training, and referral to legal and medical aid. GCN also supports girls to stay in school, to have homes free of violence, to involve school and community so that girls get maximum benefits from education.
GCN envisages a society where girls are empowered and enjoy their rights with support from whole communities so as to walk in the fullness of their potential. GCN mobilizes whole communities to eradicate patriarchal structures that dominate homes, schools, and communities so as to support and develop an enabling environment to promote and protect the rights of the girl child.
GCN acts as a voice for vulnerable girl children through leadership training, confidence building, guidance and advice on education and career pathway, access to legal advice and child friendly laws and policies, community education on child abuse and the urgent need for eradication about harmful cultural practices that hinder the full physical and emotional growth of the girl child.
GCN is currently working on a safe spaces for girls in Makeni City and also in a construction of a mini factory for our Reusable Sanitary Pads.
Girls Empowerment Programs implements empowerment for girls through three strategic programmes:
Girls Empowerment Clubs
Established in schools and communities, these have been set as the rightful platform for girls where they engage in a diversity of empowerment programmes and activities in order to realize their full potential and to stand against all atrocities targeted at them.
Girls’ clubs are strategic in that they are the heart and creative center of the organization.
Advocacy, Lobby and Law Implementation
Most of the problems girls face have resulted from the absence of a girls friendly society with policies, laws and socio-economic structures that promote and protect girls’ and women’s rights.
Programme ensures such a society and the eradication and minimization of obstacles that hinder the development and empowerment of girls and women,
– Support girl child survivors of gender based violence and girls at risk through emergency rescue operations, provision of emergency safe shelter and referral to legal and medical aid and counselling services in partnership with other stakeholders so that the girl child realises her full potential.
– Support and promote girls’ access to education through the provision of school fees, sanitary ware, panties, exercise books and other basic needs to the orphaned and vulnerable girls.
– Register household and social transformation in attitudes, beliefs and religious practices as far as they affect the girl child.
– Register media attitude change and gender sensitive reporting on the girl child
GCN also provides an opportunity for sustainable partnerships with other stakeholders in addressing the issues affecting the girl child in Sierra Leone.
We have created collaborations, partnership and networking nationally and globally; making it easy for us to carry advocacy programs targeting policy makers and law enforcement agents. Joint partnerships in some programs have resulted in speedy prosecution of perpetrators of abuse.
Our partners includes the following:
GCNSL has established two offices in Freetown and Makeni city (northern region of Sierra Leone) to coordinate our girls empowerment model due to the expansion of our work.
Girls Empowerment Clubs
Since inception in 2011, GCN Sierra Leone has established 80 girls’ empowerment clubs with a membership of 3000 girls in Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western provinces of Sierra Leone.
Raised and Future Leaders and Decision Makers
We are the first organisation that has facilitated girls’ leadership training as well as ensuring their safe platform (safe places) where they can speak and be heard. Over 80 girls have been formally certified as leaders having led club activities.
Run Training Workshops and Seminar
Through production of training that is tailor made to meet the needs of girls 30 workshops were carried on how to start the girl’s clubs and girls empowerment in self/confidence building and leadership, career pathways, sexual reproductive health (SRH) (Menstrual Hygiene Management), financial management and also training of trainers in child protection and life skills.
This is a complete shift from girls exposed to pornographic information that would lead to some of them drawn into sexual exploitation.
Set up Resource Centres
The first ever girls resource centre was established in Freetown in 2012 and it provides the first ever platform for girls information centre on leadership, reproductive health, protection and prevention of various forms of abuse.
Daily an average of 50 girls visit the centre to read, counselling, network and share knowledge they need in right, career, skills and leadership development.
Business and Entrepreneurs Initiative and Programs
The first ever project that girls passionately carry out after school is the Money from our Hands income generating project.
This project has enabled girls to unleash their creativity (back yard garden), agriculture, production of Reusable sanitary pads and design products they can sell and use the income to support their basic educational needs.
There are ten girls clubs involved in the project and this project benefits over 200 girls.
We have launched our reusable sanitary pad drive production in May 28th and Women as role model forum in June respectively.
. Welfare and Support for Teen Mothers
In 2014-2015 we launched our teen mother’s forum to support them in back to school and skills training, health and leadership, child care and parenting skills etc.
Boy’s Mentorship Forums
Our boy’s mentorship forum working side by side with girls in some activities from education, advocacy and skills.
Community Engagement Projects
We also launched and embarked on community engagement project with 30 communities in the western urban and rural area of Freetown.
Our focus is on health promotion, understanding community engagement, improve in decision making, taking ownership, strengthen communication skills at community level and learn community action planning
Hosted National Conferences
We have successfully carried out four (4) residential (7 Days) Annual National Girl’s Empowerment Conference since 2011-2016.
One of biggest and most successfully is conference 2015 and 2016 with 100 girls nationwide in Makeni City and Bo City 2016, 2017 and 2018 has being a year of great networking, collaborations in all activities and launching of new projects.
National Awareness Campaigns and Activism Programs
We have incorporated new girl’s celebration days like the first “Girls in ICT” Day.
Zero Tolerance on FGM every 6th February has being a great success as well as International Women Day each year 8th .
We collaborate with UN Women, UNICEF and other organisations in Launching End Child Marriage in Africa, we are part of a coalition in Ending Child Marriage in Sierra Leone.
Celebrating International Day of the Girl Child and 19 days activism for the prevention of violence against children and youth, 16 Days of activism in ending violence against women and girls.
The World Children prize for the right of the child.