The GIRLS! Project empowers girls at risk of School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) through education initiatives. Sierra Leone remains among the world’s poorest countries, ranking 180th out of 187 countries; in addition to low literacy level and early marriages which increases the risk of gender-based violence. School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) is a human rights violation and a barrier to education for girls. It encompasses sexual, physical and psychological violence occurring at school and on the journey to and from school. It is violence perpetrated as a result of gender stereotyping, discriminatory practices and unequal gender relations. It includes explicit threats or acts of physical violence, bullying, verbal or sexual harassment, non-consensual touching, sexual coercion and assault, and rape.
According to UNESCO, SRGBV is a global phenomenon that impacts millions of children worldwide, especially girls. A significant number of cases are under-reported and the exact number of children suffering as a result of SRGBV remains unknown. GIRLS! Project's five year strategic plan launched in 2015 supports the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3, 4, 5, and 10.
Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
Physical, sexual, and psychological violence; early marriage, sex trafficking, child labor, and poverty place girls in Sierra Leone at risk for SRGBV. GIRLS! Project education model utilizes a two-prong public health approach and addresses literacy and SRGBV; and promotes reading and psychosocial therapy as empowerment tools. We provide new books and psychosocial support to girls enrolled in partner schools. Our evidenced based program aims to decrease SRGBV and increase overall population health in the communities we serve.