"Investment in girls brings everlasting benefits" – Kailahun Sowei head

Friday 4 November 2022


Sowei Vandi showing her support for girls in Kailahun. October 2022. Photo Credit; Abdul Sillah

Child early and forced marriage and Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting are old fashioned harmful practices that deserve their rightful place in history, according to Sowei Elizabeth Vandy, head of Soweis in Kailahun district. Elizabeth believes that of all investments in the world, raising a girl to reach her full potential is the only one thing that guarantees benefits not only to the girl child but to her family and community.

Elizabeth Vandy describes herself as a proud traditional woman. She has risen through the ranks of the Bondo Society hierarchy - she started as an errand girl and is now the head of the institution in the district. She believes the idea of Bondo Society – to prepare girls for womanhood – is similar to modern day movements.

"If only people could pause and think of it, they will see that the wish of our parents to make us better and respectable women in society then, is the same thing that the government and the world is saying today. The methods are not the same, but the ideas and intents are," Madam Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth is a former soldier. During her time in the military she mixed with prominent female doctors, lawyers, teachers and police officers.  That made her realize that a woman can become anything. She now commits to championing girls’ empowerment.

"Who do we see as a successful and respected woman then? A Good wife and a responsible mother. Our parents did all they could in their own way to make us become that. They did that because they took pride in their daughters’ success, she said.

Who is a successful and respected woman today? In addition to being a wife and a mother, the options are endless - President, minister, teacher, lawyers, doctors, engineers and even a soldier. So, parents now need to do their best to see that our daughters become successful and respected women in society."

Elizabeth is a champion of the Global Affairs Canada funded Ending Child Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) project – a Save the Children three-year project that aims to reduce CEFM and enable girls to make decisions on their own future. She is a local chief and heads all the soweis in 15 chiefdoms in Kailahun.

"Girls are the best assets in which you must invest. Investment in girls brings everlasting benefits. Think about it. if you raise a girl and she is successful, all your worries are over. We have many examples in Kailahun. Parents who are smart enough to invest in the education and wellbeing of their girls are reaping the benefits daily, she said.

We have seen better and we now know better. Right now, we do not encourage anyone to initiate a girl under the age of 18. Even then, they need to decide. The same goes for marriage .As an influential group of women, we have decided to take-action against men responsible for teenage pregnancy and early marriage. We have the backing of district, chiefdom and section officials."