Students Rebuild Winner Margaret Barnard

Posted on September 06, 2013, by Half the Sky Movement

Margaret Barnard is a 25-year-old account and administrative officer for the Women and Children Rights Organization in Sierra Leone. She is one of five young women who recently won the Students Rebuild Award and was nominated by the International Rescue Committee. Margaret and the four other women from Cambodia, India, Kenya and Somaliland received $10,000 to continue helping women and girls in their communities.

The Women and Children Rights Organization seeks to protect the rights of women and children in the Kailahun District in Eastern Sierra Leone. The organization uses a revolving microfinance program to empower poor women, which Margaret believes reduces their vulnerability to violence. This belief motivated her to push the organization to establish more microfinance programs, which have helped over fifty women to date.



The women and girls of the Kailahun District look up to Magaret as a role model. In addition to economic empowerment, she teaches women about reproductive health, menstrual cycles, family planning and using modern contraceptives. These practices have reduced early marriage, forced marriage, unwanted pregnancy, teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among women and girls in Kailahun.

Margaret goes the extra mile to make sure the microloans get to those who need them most, doing personal follow ups with loan recipients and walking over five miles every day to visit them. (Her organization does not own any motor vehicles.) Many girls are tricked by teachers, family members or community leaders who start paying for a girl’s education or rent, only to leave them after they get them pregnant. Margaret makes sure these girls are given loans and taught about sexual exploitation to prevent it from happening again.

Learn more about Margaret’s involvement in her community here and read about other Students Rebuild Award winners Linda Kamau and Nimco Cabdillah.

The Students Rebuild Awards featuring Half the Sky Movement recognized and celebrated five young women working to end the oppression of women and girls in their communities. Through a $10,000 prize ($50,000 total), these awards elevated the game changers who often go unrecognized, fighting bravely to improve life conditions for their peers. Learn more at