Justice for Women
Empowering women to access their rights.
The 50/50 Group
Violence against women is a pervasive problem in Sierra Leone. Despite three landmark acts designed to expand women’s rights,most women remained ignorant of their new ability to obtain a divorce, inherit property, and seek justice for domestic violence. The situation was further compounded by societal pressure to protect the family unit at the cost of women’s health and wellbeing, and the reliance on traditional justice mechanisms, which are often biased against women seeking redress for their grievances.
To increase awareness of women’s legal rights, the 50/50 Group translated the three gender acts –The Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the The Devolution of Property Act, – into Sierra Leone’s four main languages. Using the translations, the group held workshops and extensive discussions with tribal and religious leaders, long considered to be important strategic allies in the war against domestic violence. Tribal and faith leaders were then asked to read the acts aloud, and the recordings of these sessions were played on the radio and broadcast throughout Sierra Leone.
As a result of the 50/50 Group’s efforts, thousands of women, many of whom were illiterate, are now more aware of the rights afforded to them by three gender-specific acts. Radio proved to be an effective tool for disseminating simplified versions of these acts in Sierra Leone’s main languages. Tribal and religious leaders were sensitized to the plight of physically abused women, and were made aware of their key provisions under the law.
Key partners in this effort included the media, tribal and religious chiefs, civil society groups, and law enforcement officials, who were invited to join the training workshops.
Program Countries:Sierra Leone
Dates:December 1, 2008 - January 1, 2012
Rule of Law Index Factors:Order and Security (Factor 3), Fundamental Rights (Factor 4), Open Government (Factor 5), Regulatory Enforcement (Factor 6), Civil Justice (Factor 7), and Criminal Justice (Factor 8).
Issue Areas:Faith, Government, Human Rights, and Military and Public Safety.