Gender at the centre

Enhancing girls’ retention in schools by establishing a protective and empowering environment and addressing school related gender-based violence.

The United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative’s Gender at the Centre Initiative is an international collaboration between civil society and international organisations, aimed at promoting gender equality in education across 8 pilot countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Sierra Leone, Plan International and Education For All Coalition have partnered to enhance girls’ retention in schools by establishing a protective and empowering environment.

This initiative operates in 4 districts, including Moyamba, Port Loko, Western Rural, and Western Urban, in collaboration with 8 ministries, including the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), since November 2021.

Gender at the Center active in 4 districts.
Gender at the Center has reached over 300 participants.
UNGEI logo.

Why do we need gender at the centre?

Sierra Leone still faces significant challenges with gender discrimination in political, economic, social, cultural, and justice domains, leading to barriers for women and girls in accessing education. The number of girls enrolled in schools decreases as they progress to higher levels of education. Gender inequality is a fundamental cause of obstacles to sustainable development in the country. Schools are common settings for school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV), affecting a considerable portion of the young population. SRGBV encompasses various forms of violence, such as psychological, sexual, emotional, and physical, occurring within schools and during journeys to and from school.

The project tackles these issues through multiple approaches, including training, advocacy, lobbying, coaching, and mentoring, aiming to garner significant support for girls by engaging key stakeholders. In collaboration with MBSSE the focus is on addressing the barriers hindering girls’ access to education aligning with MBSSE’s Education Sector Plan and Radical Inclusion Policy.

Inter-generational dialogues are promoting girls’ education

Through the Gender at the Centre initiative, people of different ages in western rural Sierra Leone come together to talk about attitudes and behaviors towards girls’ education. These dialogues bring together important stakeholders from the community, such as traditional leaders, young people, religious leaders, bike and keke drivers, teachers, girls and boys. They discuss the importance of supporting girls to ensure their right to get a good education and identify behaviours to promote this.

After extensive discussions, communities have identified ways to promote gender transformative behaviours towards girls’ education in the community:

  1. Intensify sensitisation of community members in gender transformative behaviours.
  2. Support child welfare committees to engage parents.

These dialogues bring together people from all over the community to share ideas and improve the lives of girls, so that they may learn and thrive in a safe environment.

Safer school transportation

In May 2023, a selected group of female students participated in a session to identify and discuss the challenges they encounter while using government provided school transportation. This aspect is often overlooked, as areas of risk are usually focused on the school or home environment. The recommendations provided by the girls are addressed at the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and the Ministry of Transportation advocating for an all-girls school bus.

Find out more and download the report below:

GCI – Girls' voices_transportation


847 kb

Gender at the Center is being implemented in partnership with Education For All Coalition.

Education For All Coalition Logo

Education, Protection from violence, Gender-based violence