Mrs. Amy Onike Eileen Smythe started her career as a teacher at a very young age and moved on to the field of development and public policy, later working on gender issues both at the national and international levels. She has been very active in civil society as well as in government in Sierra Leone where she has served in several capacities teaching French and English at Secondary level in both boys’ and girls’ institutions for about twenty- five years. She started the women’s desk at the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone in the late 1980s before moving on to become the first Sierra Leonean woman country programme director of the international NGO, CUSO, where she worked in community development with a focus on adult education in 48 villages in the North and 39 in the South of Sierra Leone before becoming a Minister of Government and later serving as an international peacekeeper in the Democratic Republic of Congo .
She addressed the UN Security Council on the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 on Women Peace and Security in 2003. Mrs Smythe was National President of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Sierra Leone in the mid 1990s when women mobilized for peace and advocated for the return of the country to democratic governance following the military coup in 1992.
In 2002 Mrs. Smythe became the first Senior Gender Adviser in a United Nations Multi-dimensional Peackeeping Mission and worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo, using a two-pronged approach in mainstreaming a gender dimension in the implementation of the UN mission’s mandate in that country, both within the mission and in the Congolese population, in a bid to implement the UNSCR 1325.
Mrs. Smythe graduated from Fourah Bay College with an honours degree in French in 1982, after qualifying as a teacher from Milton Margai Teachers’ College in 1967. She pursued a professional course in Montpellier France in teaching French as a foreign language and in 1999 she completed a course in public policy at Havard University, USA.