Sierra Leone’s President, Dr Julius Maada Bio, has been honored with an award of Patron by Female Parliamentarians of the ECOWAS.

President Bio was awarded for his Exceptional Leadership in Empowering Women and supporting Government’s Human Capital Development in the nation’s capital Freetown.

The members who presented the ECOFEPA Patron Award included MPs from Senegal, Togo, Niger, Liberia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, as well as the Head of Parliamentary Affairs and the Clerk of ECOFEPA.

The team was accompanied by the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt. Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, and the chairperson of the female parliamentary caucus of Sierra Leone, Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay.

Hon. Woraye Saar, President of ECOFEPA and Senegalese politician, presented the award to President Bio and expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the warm hospitality and the continued efforts in supporting women at all levels in the country.

“His Excellency, we the women in the ECOWAS parliament are grateful for your outstanding leadership and for the empowerment of women and girls in Sierra Leone and in Africa in general. We believe that your commitment and political will to women’s empowerment will one day be replicated by your colleague heads of state.

“Your human capital development agenda is outstanding, and we are aware of the many good works your government is doing to empower women and support girls in Sierra Leone. We are, therefore, here as an association of women parliamentarians in the ECOWAS parliament to extend our gratitude to you through our colleague, Hon. Veronica Kadie Sesay, by awarding you as a Patron of the ECOWAS Female Parliamentarians Association”.

In his response, President Bio welcomed the ECOFEPA members to Sierra Leone as he prayed for a successful conference with positive deliberations and outcomes that would reflect the group’s goal toward the interest of the continent.

“My commitment to supporting women is natural. As a result of the roles my late mother and elder sister played in shaping the person I am today, I understand women better and the love I received from my mother, who believed in education. 

“It is an honour to receive you and the award. I am delighted to be honoured by women for my outstanding work towards developing the human capital of my country. This shows you understand exactly where I am coming from. I am, therefore, encouraging more men to understand where I want to take the country to,” the President said.

He stated that before now, menstruation was never discussed by parents, thereby leaving the girls with a double stigma. He assured them that girls now understood that menstruation was a biological problem that they must encourage discussions around.

In the past, we hardly allowed our girls who were parents to continue schooling, forgetting that they were victims. Hence, as parents, we were doing the secondary victimisation.