I am the fifth of seven children. My Mother is a house wife and My Dad a retired police man and the local Imam. I grew up in a police barracks in North-western Freetown, Sierra Leone. As the quietest child in the home, I spent most of my time reading novels from pacesetters to mills and boons. If I was not in school or doing household chores, I could be found sitting in some quiet corners reading novels. My Mother was not educated but saw value in education as a means of ending the cycle of poverty. My family was modest. My mother was involved in petty trading and also acquired dressmaking skill, tie and dye making and other crafts just so she could make financial contribution to her home. My Father worked at Statehouse and was greatly inspired by the people in his working environment (civil servants and public administrators) at the president’s office. He wanted all his children to be highly educated. He always say 'No man will treat a highly educated woman badly'.My Mother believed she endured the maltreatment of my Father because she was not educated. 'What was I supposed to do? No education, no money to do business,' she would explain. Myparents were very determined to see us achieved academically.
Abuse of women was and still is common in my community and most other parts of Sierra Leone. Most of the girls in my community could not finished secondary education, most got pregnant and went out of school. Rape and other forms of abuse that endorses gender inequality were and are still widespread. With this reality in mind, I opted to study Mass Communications and became a journalist for a local newspaper. When I started practicing journalism, Sierra Leone was just coming out of war. Women’s issues were not being reported enough in the media. Female journalists were mainly concentrating on soft news story such as ‘relationship advice’ and press conferences. I wanted to change this; I started a column called GenderWatch at the newspaper I worked for. Soon other newspapers followed suit. With other female journalists we formed the Women in the Media Sierra Leone. We advocated for female journalists through discussions, newspaper articles and meetings with media heads.
When I moved to the UK, I realized women here face similar problems as women back home. This situation is especially difficult for migrant women. I started investigating and writing about the issues, using media to raise awareness of the issues they face. As a journalist, I write about the issues facing women in Sierra Leone as well as women in the diaspora. I believe by writing, blogging about these issues, collectively we are raising our voices to authorities responsible for the protection of women. We are also sending a strong message to perpetrators of violence against women that enough is enough.
Since I joined World Pulse my networking and readership have broaden and I am pleased that issues affecting Sierra Leonean women and immigrants women in the UK have reached the World Pulse audience. I took part in the Women weave the web campaign and I was happy to have contributed to such a successful campaign.
The main reason for high teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone is poverty. Most of the young vulnerable girls have to endure the risk of sex for money to provide for their families. Besides journalism, I have been making other contributions to a local community in Freetown. Through the Better Future Foundation, founded by me and my sisters, we have been collecting and sending used clothing, school materials; toys, pencils and books to poor families and school children in and around the Wilberforce community in Freetown.
I believe by breaking the chain of poverty through enhancing education for young girls, we are putting an end to violence against women. A woman who is educated and financially able stands a very low risk of being abused by a man. I envision a world wherein men and women, boys and girls respect each other and treat each other as equal. To end gender inequality, abuse and violence against women, we must first teach children the culture of RESPECT .