Gender-based violence and girls’ right to education in Sierra Leone

The right to education is regarded as universal and inviolable, yet all over the world children, especially girls, continue to be denied their right to a quality schooling. In Sierra Leone, a gender gap in education persists, particularly from secondary school onwards where lower levels of female participation are recorded, due in part to forms of violence and discrimination directed against girls. This situation is in turn perpetuating a vicious cycle of poverty and gender inequality from generation to generation.

This report, co-produced by Barbara Robinson of the Human Rights Center of the University of Essex and Defence for Children International – Sierra Leone, examines how different forms of gender-based violence, including harmful cultural practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), are affecting girls’ ability to access and remain in secondary and higher education in Sierra Leone.

The report investigates and exposes:
• Girls’ perspectives and experiences of the educational system in Sierra Leone;
• The cultural, social and financial barriers to girls’ right to further education;
• Insight into the impact of the 2014/15 Ebola epidemic on girls’ experiences of school and their wider lives; and
• The role of the State, civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Sierra Leone in addressing these issues.

The report mainly focuses on issues affecting girls and young women in Freetown, although information regarding the situation of girls outside the capital and in rural Sierra Leone was collected through interviews with NGO staff based in those areas.

A mountain to climb coVER-page-001

To read the entire report (English only), click here.

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