ECOWAS Court passes landmark judgment in favour of “Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society” (represented by IHRDA and Equality Now) against Sierra Leone, in case concerning Sierra Leone’s policy to ban pregnant girls from attending mainstream school.
In judgment handed down 12 Dec 2019, the Court ruled that the said policy is a violation of girls’ right to education. The Court holds that Sierra Leone’s practice of establishing separate educational facilities for pregnant girls is an institutionalized discrimination against them and a violation of the right to equal education for all children, especially as teaching in the said schools is estimated to be significantly inefficient. This is in violation of several international legal instruments applicable to Sierra Leone.
The Court has ordered Sierra Leone to immediately revoke the policy; to abolish the schools established separately for pregnant girls; to develop strategies, programmes and nationwide campaigns focusing on reversing negative societal attitudes that support discrimination and bias against pregnant girls attending school, which foster the violation of their right, as well as the right of teenage mother, to continuing education; to develop strategies, programmes and nationwide campaigns to enable teenage mothers to attend school; and to integrate sexual and reproductive health education into the school curricula.
The Plaintiffs have described the Court’s decision as a major milestone in girls’ rights jurisprudence in Africa, as such violations are common in a number of countries on the continent. Source:IHRDA