SIERRA LEONE: In Sierra Leone, ActionAid Discusses Access to Justice With Rural Women

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Awareness Times
Western Africa
Sierra Leone
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

As part of its campaign to reduce injustice and increase Access to Justice (AtoJ) for women in Sierra Leone, ActionAid Sierra Leone has convened one day advocacy dialogue on safety and security for women accessing justice in Freetown on Monday October 24, 2011.

According to the Project Coordinator Access to Justice for Women Madam Zynab Binta Senesie, the A2J project is a two-year DFID multi-country project on enhancing access to Justice for Women in Conflict affected communities such as Nigeria, Liberia, Somaliland and Sierra Leone.

The aim of this project, she went on, is to increase safety and security of women in conflict affected communities by ensuring they have access to justice by influencing demand and supply sides of justice.

She stated that the AtoJ project is also expected to build demand by enhancing the capacity of affected women to advocate for access to justice characterised by accessibility, adaptability, availability and acceptability and most importantly, increase supply of justice for women by promoting pro-women government policies, judicial system reforms and changes in cultural practices at national, local and community levels.

She expressed the hope that at the end of the dialogue, there will be increased demand for access to justice among marginalised women in communities and the capacity to increase among women groups/NGOs to undertake programme and advocacy on the legal rights of marginalised women.

She said it will reform the traditional justice systems and other community structures to project women's legal rights through changes in national laws and policies and project shared nationally and internationally. The project, according to Madam Senesie, was implemented in Katheri-Yiritha Sella-Limba Chiefdom Bombali District, Ngo Town Nimiyama Chiefdom Kono District and Mbundorbu Baoma Chiefdom Bo District.

She highlighted high community expectations especially in the area of livelihood support, deep rooted traditional and cultural beliefs, norms and practices, the existence of discriminatory customary laws and practices, existence of obsolete laws that continue to undermine women's access to justice.

She also noted the shortage of legal personnel and poor logistical support to supply side structures, limited funds to support CSOs and to promote A2J and the high bureaucracy in the supply side justice system.