Popular movie star, Freida Selena Pinto star actress in the movie, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and now Goodwill Ambassador for PLAN International, yesterday started a three-day visit to different PLAN Sierra Leone ‘Because I Am A Girl (BIAAG)’ and other projects undertaken by the organization in the country.
At the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Minister Steven Gaojia said that the BIAAG “is dear to the Ministry” noting that the project takes women empowerment seriously.
The Minister said that women and young girls are always at the tail end in terms of marginalization as they are at the disadvantaged position.
Steven Gaojia noted that gender awareness in Sierra Leone is beginning to be fruitful and that programmes in schools should now be gender sensitive and for it these programmes to be sustainable they have to go along with the women.
He cautioned however that women programmes must not be centered only in Freetown, noting that women in rural areas should benefit as they constitute the bulk of the women population in the country.
Augustine Allieu, Country Director PLAN-Sierra Leone said that the purpose of the visit was for the Ambassador to look at the BIAAG and to identify what can be done to empower girls.
The Country Director highlighted some of the projects that PLAN has undertaken in the country aimed at empowering the girl-child.
At the ‘Girl Power Project’ at Songo, where the Ambassador met with a cross section of beneficiaries of a girl project implemented by PLAN Sierra Leone, she called on the girls to be proud of themselves and emphasized on the value of education and how this can make their voices heard in society.
She stated that “with education, you can say whatever you want, and especially what you don’t want and this can give you a voice in your family, community and even your country.”
Freida questioned the children if they have been forced to do things that they do not wish to do but were forced because they were girls. The girls responded with a lot of issues which were manifestations of force of the girls.
She encouraged the girls to have hope in whatever they are engaged in and what they dream to become and encouraged them to always resist being bullied.
Freida Selena Pinto is an Indian and an actress and a model that is best known for her portrayal of ‘Latika’ in the 2008 Academy Award winning film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance.
Since the success of the film she has gone to star in other films such as ‘you will meet a Tall Dark stranger,’ and ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’.
By Betty Milton