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Our Herstory

What gets in the way of girls? Systems, structures, cultures and societal attitudes. At GESL we ensure the barriers and challenges that girls face are not only removed by empowering their minds, we also empower them with the tools to shatter glass ceilings, break walls and tear down every pre conceived notion of what they have been told they are. 


 What started as a 1-day summit with 9 girls has grown to a multi leveled girl community led hub to support the dreams and aspirations of girls in Sierra Leone.


GESL was co-founded by two Sierra Leonean women Moiyattu Banya and Liesel Renner in 2012 through the launching of a 1 day summit for girls. Upon completion of the summit the women conducted a baseline of 5 schools across Freetown to gauge the importance of such a program to support the self-development of girls. The data gathered from the baseline showed that there was a need for safe spaces where girls could feel comfortable to speak about issues, build self-confidence and grow.  GESL was launched in 2013 and during our annual summit bring over 30 girls together. GESL has been on this journey due to key founding members who have supported the vision of the organization in tremendous ways. Our founding member Stephanie Filo-Jones who was one of the women who attended as mentors during our 2012 gathering who later on became a board member contributing significantly to the communications and branding of the organization to date. Our second founding member Maryam Darwich joined the GESL journey in the capacity of a country lead with tremendous contributing to the shaping of GESL’s programmatic and organizational architecture. To date both women serve in advisory capacities in the organization.


 Through the support of a broader community of  our girls and their families, our in country team, community partners, advisory board and technical advisors, private sector partners and funders over the past 10 years, GESL has directly impacted a total of 540 girls and indirectly 2700+ girls.

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Girls Empowerment Sierra Leone

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