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Date / Time
9 h 00 min - 11 h 00 min

Room XXVII, Palais des Nations

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The event is organized by Defence for Children International (DCI) and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone.


*** All UN-accredited persons are welcome to attend ***



Under international law, children are entitled to free compulsory primary education and States have an obligation to develop secondary education and make it accessible for all. However, across the world children continue to face discrimination in accessing and realising their human right to a quality education. This is especially the case for girls in the developing world, who are more likely to be illiterate and to drop out of school at an early age than their male peers. While poverty is normally the main underlying reason for disengagement from education, for girls these financial obstacles are often compounded by discriminatory attitudes, practices and laws.


In Sierra Leone and across West Africa, girls face a conflict between traditional female roles and modern influences promoting gender equality in education and employment. While progressive policies have been developed at national level to improve enrolment rates, significant barriers to the right to education persist, including early marriage and pregnancy, child sexual exploitation, the heavy burden of domestic work, female genital mutilation and other forms of gender-based violence.



The objective of this side event is to discuss the social, cultural and financial barriers that exist to girls’ schooling, drawing upon issues raised in a new DCI report on gender-based violence and girls’ right to education in Sierra Leone. The presenters will set out the issues in a (West African) context, and will discuss effective strategies and ‘what works’ in overcoming these obstacles at national and local level. The event will be an opportunity for participants to share best practice both in terms of influencing decision makers and direct engagement with vulnerable girls and their communities, with special reference to DCI’s Girl Power programme that is currently being implemented in a number of West African countries.



  • E. Madam Yvette Stevens, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the UN
  • Barbara Robinson, Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex
  • Hawanatu Mansaray, youth involved in the DCI Girl Power Project, Sierra Leone
  • Akwasi Amankwaah, National Coordinator for Ghana NGOs Coalition on Rights of the Child (GNCRC)
  • Abdul Manaff, DCI Regional Representative for Africa, President DCI – Sierra Leone
  • Joyce Brummelman, Program Officer Defence for Girls, DCI – The Netherlands (Moderator)

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