Featured Storyteller

SIERRA LEONE: Girls Are the Future of Peace and Security

Fatima Wahab Babih
Posted January 17, 2019 from United States

Working with girls in Sierra Leone gives Fatima Wahab Babih 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 socioeconomic 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 girl’s 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.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of the Future of Security Is Women digital event and is sponsored by our partner Our Secure Future. World Pulse runs Story Awards year round—share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller! Learn more.

 

Comments 26

Log in or register to post comments
Sis. Salifu
Jan 17
Jan 17

Congrats sis. Fatima :-). Actually Fatima is my mother's name so you are my mother :-).

Fatima Wahab Babih
Jan 20
Jan 20

Thank you so much, my dear daughter! To you, I am MaFatima, you know you can't say your mom's name verbatim:-)

Sis. Salifu
Jan 21
Jan 21

Haha! I heard you :-)

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls

What an empowering and affirming model of organising ! Definitely worth sharing in my region!

Fatima Wahab Babih
Jan 20
Jan 20

Thanks so much Sis. Sharon! This vision is for all girls wherever they are oppressed, deprived or disadvantaged. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and energy in this quest!

Jill Langhus
Jan 18
Jan 18

Hi Fatima,

Congrats on winning the story award, for your passionate story! Looking forward to seeing more stories from you...

Fatima Wahab Babih
Jan 20
Jan 20

Many thanks, Sis Jlanghus, for your kind words & encouragement! I will do my best to stay active. All the best!

Jill Langhus
Jan 20
Jan 20

You're welcome, dear:-) Looking forward to it! You, too!!!

Fatima thanks for sharing.
The girls you empower will build peaceful nations for they are truly the confident women of tomorrow.

Keep up dear!

Fatima Wahab Babih
Feb 01
Feb 01

Thank you my dear sis!! Yes, the girls are the best hope for building our nations, let’s continue empowering them. Thanks for all you are doing!
Peace & Love with you always!!

Marie Abanga
Jan 21
Jan 21

Beautiful story Mama Salone lol,
Congratulation on winning the award. Hope you get many more partners and the necessary resources for all your endeavours Amen

Fatima Wahab Babih
Feb 01
Feb 01

Ameen & Thanks so much my dear sis! And thanks for all you are doing too. Peace & Love be with you always!

Deborah Munyekenye
Jan 21
Jan 21

Congrats for the award. You are doing good work for girls

Fatima Wahab Babih
Feb 01
Feb 01

Thanks my dear! Your support and encouragements are nourishment, and highly appreciated. May we all continue to work for a better tomorrow for girls and women!!
Peace & Love be with you always!

Anne Dupont
Jan 22
Jan 22

Fatima—this is an important and beautiful vision for the girls and young women in your country and in every country. Good luck in the work you are doing in Sierra Leone and I am looking forward to hearing more as you continue to grow your life’s work. Thank you!
With gratitude,
Anne

Tarke Edith
Jan 24
Jan 24

Hello Fatima
Thanks alot for the work you are doing over there for the girls sister keep up

Fatima Wahab Babih
Feb 01
Feb 01

My dear sis. Tarke, thanks so much for your support and all that you are doing too for girls and women!!
Peace & Love be with you always!!

Fatima Wahab Babih
Feb 01
Feb 01

Thanks so very much my dear sis Anne! I am immensely grateful for all your support and encouragements. Yes, this vision applies to girls in every corner of the globe, especially where they are disadvantaged. And thank you too for your part to make life better for girls and women in your corner of the globe. May we all grow stronger tiger!!
Peace & Love be with you always!

laison sylvie
Jan 25
Jan 25

Courage sister. God give you strength to carry on the good work. I am so inspired by your work.

Fatima Wahab Babih
Feb 01
Feb 01

Ameen my dear sis. Sylvie!! May God continue to strengthen all of us in our respective efforts. Keep up up your good work too and many thanks for your support and encouragement!
Peace & Love always!

ARREY- ECHI
Feb 08
Feb 08

Hello Fatima,
Congratulations for your award.
What a worthy goal. I pray you get the needed funds to achieve your goal.
Mama Salone sounds like an interesting name for a blog. Will be visiting.

Congratulations, Sis Fatima! Thank you for casting a better vision for the girls in Sierra Leone. May more girls find your safe haven. May there be more you!

Deborah Munyekenye
Feb 17
Feb 17

Congratulations

Linfraser
Mar 07
Mar 07

Fatima, I share your beautiful and important vision. Thank you for the work that you do to lift up Girls and Women.

Kirthi
Mar 20
Mar 20

Very well said, Fatima! Girls are indeed the future of this world's peace and security!

Hello Fatima thanks again for sharing. I am doing some paper work related to the past conflict in Sierra Leone and story telling. Would like to get your contributions and some from 3 of your girls. Would you mind accepting my friend request on messenger or send me a friend request at frinwie muma on messenger for further discussion if you will not mind. my email; fosahmuma@gmail.com
Thanks