Name: Hariyatu Bangura
Where: Sierra Leone
What she does: Teacher and Women’s Leader in the Western Region of the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union (SLTU)
Impact: Promoted better education in Sierra Leone and a more prominent role for women within the Teachers’ Union
Nominated by: Tess Gill
Hariyatu Bangura is the Women’s Leader in the Western Region of the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union (SLTU). The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has a longstanding partnership with the SLTU and with the TUC recently visitedFreetownto help to build upon that partnership.
Hariyatu is a business studies teacher at the Sierra Leone Muslim Congress Secondary School in Kissy Mess Mess in Freetown.
She joined the union as soon as she started as a teacher and got increasingly involved. She says, “Now that I am active, I can start to support other women and encourage them to be active. Some women just sit at the back of meetings, but I tell them to move to the front and play a role. Women cannot just be passengers; they must be a driver sometimes too.”
Hariyatu recognises that it is hard for women to be involved in union structures. “Women have traditionally been marginalised by men and when we go for leadership positions in the union it can sometimes threaten men, but this does need to happen,” she says.
She believes that there is a real need to train more girls to become both teachers and active members of the union. “Forty per cent of the union membership are women, but women hold very few of the union leadership positions. This needs to change, but women face many challenges. We have to juggle our domestic lives with our union and school responsibilities. Before I arrived in school this morning, I had already done my family’s laundry and I had prepared some soup for our evening meal.”
The future work of the NUT with the SLTU will aim to improve both the lot of teachers in Sierra Leone and the quality of education that children in school receive.