SIERRA LEONE: Girls Are the Future of Peace and Security

Fatima Wahab Babih
Posted September 24, 2018 from United States
Salone DIAMONDS Girls 2018 Retreat

Working with girls in Sierra Leone gives Fatima Babeh a glimpse of what is possible for her country.

“I envision these girls becoming the confident women of tomorrow.”

My vision for peace and security has been shaped by my lived experiences growing up in Sierra Leone, in West Africa. This vision begins and ends with girls.

In my country, many girls never enter secondary school and very few make it to college. A great number of girls are sexually exploited and given away to early marriages. This keeps most women in the lowest socio-economic and political status, unaware of their human rights, and conditioned to seek salvation through men.

My vision recognizes that when girls experience peace and security today, they will become women who tomorrow will ensure the peace and security of their families, communities, and nation. Women are the first teachers in the home, the first responders in the community, and they pay the highest price when the nation is in any kind of crisis.

Change starts in the home, where I envision every girl having a chance to grow up in an enabling environment, with adults’ support, care, and nurturing. In this peaceful and secure world, every girl will be able to live and thrive. She will have no barriers to education, health care, or adequate food. She will have the opportunity to read books in her home and study for school, without being overburdened with housework. Without the exhaustion of non-stop duties, she will be able to focus on her lessons and develop herself and her talents.

When a girl steps outside the home and into the community, I envision a world in which she can securely walk to school or the market. She can play without being sexually molested or otherwise exploited by predators appearing in the guise of trusted adults. I envision a community that protects girls' dignity and respects her freedom and personhood.

If and when a girl falls prey to violations of her rights, I envision a government that enforces the laws of the land to serve justice, protect her, and prevent further violations of her personhood; a government that knows she is worthy of attention and care.

A  secure world for girls is more than a vision. I am working every day to bring about this world by educating and empowering girls in Sierra Leone. Through my blog, Mama Salone, I address issues that affect girls and women in my country. As the co-founder and executive director of Girls LEAD Change, I work to educate adolescent girls about the sanctity of their bodies and minds.

I see attitudes beginning to change as the girls in our Salone DIAMONDS Girls program say a daily affirmation: “I am a DIAMONDS Girl, precious and worthy!” They pledge: “I promise to care for my body and mind, be kind to others and the environment and live by the DIAMONDS Girls’ Code of Conduct!”

Through this program, we are mentoring rural adolescent girls and creating awareness about their rights and responsibilities to pursue their highest potential. They are on a path to become self-sufficient women who can contribute to the development, peace, and security of their nation.

Currently, 50 adolescent girls from remote villages in southern Sierra Leone participate in the program. To make my vision a reality, I need resources—including financial, technical, and human resources—to expand the program to all regions of the country. My dream is for the program to eventually become a leadership development school for young women in rural Sierra Leone and beyond.

I envision the Salone DIAMONDS Girls as the next generation of educated, self-sufficient women, who not only know their rights but fight to ensure the rights of every child, man, and woman. I envision these girls becoming the confident women of tomorrow, who will not wait for men to call them to the leadership table, but will boldly rise up, bring their own chairs and take their rightful place at the table, where their voices will be valued in discussions about peace, security, and nation-building. Only with their contributions, will there truly be lasting development, peace, and security in the home, community, nation—and in the world.

Peace & Love to All!

Fatima Babih, Doctoral Student

MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

This story was submitted in response to The Future of Security is Women .

Comments 16

Log in or register to post comments
Jill Langhus
Sep 25, 2018
Sep 25, 2018

Hi Fatima,

Thanks for sharing your very inspiring passion, work, mission and organization. I love what you're doing for those girls and the pledge that they are each taking. I wish you much luck in your fundraiser. Do let us know if you have a link for your fundraiser. You may also want to share your need for financial resources on the "Resources" page so that more members see it: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/my-pulse/resources

Looking forward to seeing more posts from you.

Hope you're having a great day!

Fatima Wahab Babih
Oct 02, 2018
Oct 02, 2018

Thank you so much, my sister! I appreciate all your support and the great resource link. I will keep you posted on our activities. I love being here and hope to continue contributing, as much as possible.
Have a wonderful day & week!

Jill Langhus
Oct 03, 2018
Oct 03, 2018

You're very welcome:)

Sounds great...looking forward to it.

I'm glad to hear you love being here. We love having your here!

You, too!

Juliet Acom
Sep 25, 2018
Sep 25, 2018

Hi Fatima,

Thanks for the excellent work you are doing mentoring these girls.
I am truly inspired, thanks for sharing with us and God bless you.

Fatima Wahab Babih
Oct 02, 2018
Oct 02, 2018

Hello & Thanks so much Sis. Juliet! We have to do whatever we can, every little bit we do for girls in our community goes a long way.
Best regards & May God bless us all!

AGNES TUMASANG
Sep 25, 2018
Sep 25, 2018

Your wish is such a wonderful one and i pray that you should obtain your wish. Thanks

Fatima Wahab Babih
Oct 02, 2018
Oct 02, 2018

Ameen my sister & thank you so much! It is my wish for all girls who are in disadvantaged situations in our continent and around the world.
All the best & stay blessed!

Tarke Edith
Sep 25, 2018
Sep 25, 2018

hello Fatima
Waoo thank you sister for the job you are doing thete in Seralone to bring the girls to a lamb light is not an easy work for your own point of veiw as concent peace and security thank you sister you ate mavelouse good luck in your submitiong

Fatima Wahab Babih
Oct 02, 2018
Oct 02, 2018

Thanks sister Edith, I truly appreciate your kind words! You are so right, it is not the easiest thing to provide direct help to girls, but it is worth every challenge. My prayer is that we get to a stage where girls and women will be safe so we do not need to do this work anymore. Let's all keep doing our parts.
Best regards!

Mkandeh
Sep 26, 2018
Sep 26, 2018

Hi Fatima,
Fantastic job you are doing for our young girls in Sierra Leone. keep it up. The girls are blessed to have you. I love your passion and I love the SALONE DIAMOND GIRLS programme.
Blessings to you and your team

Fatima Wahab Babih
Oct 02, 2018
Oct 02, 2018

Thanks so much sis. Mariama for all your kind words! The girls in Sierra Leone have so much potential, as intelligent human beings; it is heartbreaking to see so many of them fall by the wayside, because of early pregnancy and other issues that do not allow them to reach their highest potential. Thanks for all you are doing too!
God bless us all!

Tamarack Verrall
Sep 29, 2018
Sep 29, 2018

Hi Fatima,

You have laid out so beautifully this plan, these priorities, and what is needed for all girls to be able to have this wise and loving care and encouragement. This is the plan that every girl deserves. This is the responsibility of governments and all in control of resources and laws, to make this happen. I wish you the best in getting the funding you need to continue and to see this happen for every girl, everywhere.

In sisterhood,
Tam

Fatima Wahab Babih
Oct 02, 2018
Oct 02, 2018

My dear sister Tam,
Thank you so much for your kind words and support! You are so right, every girl deserves care and attention; unfortunately, African governments are not getting it. So it is left with ordinary folks like us, who must keep doing our best to uplift and safeguard our girls everywhere. Thank you too for all you are doing in this role!
Thanks again & all the best!

Jane Howard
Sep 29, 2018
Sep 29, 2018

Hi Fatima,
your time and effort spent educating and uplifting these young women is so important; it sounds like it has already had a tremendous positive effect. Keep up the great work!

Fatima Wahab Babih
Oct 02, 2018
Oct 02, 2018

My dear sis Jane,
Yes, the three days retreat was transformational for those girls; we could see so much self-confidence and a general feeling that they matter. A lot of parents of girls who are not in the program came to me telling me that their daughters want to be DIAMONDS Girls; it has become "heap" in those villages to be one and that in itself was rewarding. We must all continue to do what we can, it matters a lot.
Thanks & God bless us all!

Seka
Oct 03, 2018
Oct 03, 2018

Bonjour Fatima,
C'est avec empressement que je lis ton dévouement pour la cause de la fille. C'est génial comme ambitions et nos sincères encouragements. Une fois les objectifs les objectifs atteints, ce sera une génération tant attendue!
Bon travail!