Safe Sister Fellowship with support from INTERNEWS (US) has organized a one-day training for young women and girls on the safety and rights of young Women and girls in the digital environment. The event took place on the 9th September, 2023 in Moyiba/Mamba Ridge Community.
Safe Sisters is a joint initiative of INTERNEWS and Defenders that seeks to address the growing epidemic of online violence against women by empowering women to learn digital safety skills to protect themselves online. Safe Sisters/INTERNEWS (US) has been training and empowering young women and girls on how to use digital media in Sierra Leone for the past three years.
Speaking at the event, the Facilitator of Safe Sister Fellowship Madam Mariatu Tamba explained that digital media especially social media was created as a tool to connect and improve lives but it is now increasing being used as a weapon against women and girls in the world. She furthered that digital media facilitates social interaction and empowers people adding that it can also maintain friendship regardless of time or distance.
She urged young women and girls to use passwords in order to secure a digital system. She added that passwords help to prevent young girls from building in the cyber space.
‘If you do not secure your data people will hack your system’, she added. She urged them to use strong passwords in securing their data or digital space. She added that passwords should be strong and more than twelve characters long.
She noted that women and young girls are prone to cyber bullying online adding that they avoid or desist from forwarding their nude pictures to other people.
She continued that a password helps the user to defend data against unauthorized access to personal information and further help them to be safe from cyber criminals.
She urged girls not to succumb to challenges adding that challenges are inevitable in human life and further urged them to be diligent in their daily lives.
Speaking to the press, the Co-facilitator Mrs. Lois Simche Lebbie said social media has helped to develop lives but has also reduced physical interaction.
She continued that social media has so many good things but also has negative effects on people especially women and young girls in the world noting that the more they expose themselves to internet the more they are exposed to violence.
She disclosed that social media has exposed young girls and women to sexual harassment and bulling on social media noting that sexual harassment is common on social media and mostly directed at young girls.
She also advised them to be self-disciplined and maintain self-esteem adding that this should not stop them from interacting with the opposite sex. “You are the CEO of your life” she noted. She called on women and girls to support each other in addressing sexual harassment and bulling on social media and further urged them to provide solutions to their problems and encourage each other.
Lois reiterated that women have faced a lot on social media and this has affected their mental health. She went on to say social media is not the best place to find partners and urged them to verify information before posting or forwarding on social media. She advised them to place a price tag on themselves and know how to communicate with others in a respectful manner. ‘Your post online can be here forever and can harm you; do not allow others to degrade you in society ’she cautioned.
Speaking to the press Mariatu S. Kargbo one of the participants expressed thanks and appreciation to the facilitators of Safe Sisters for training them on the use of digital media. She said that this will help young women and girls to properly use digital media. ‘The skills acquired from this training will help me protect my data in the cyber space’, she added.