Sierra Leone’s First Lady, H.E. Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, has collaborated with various Development Partners to collectively plan Sierra Leone’s inaugural commemoration of the United Nations “World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence.” The event is now scheduled to be observed annually on November 18th.

The significant meeting took place on Monday, October 2nd, 2023, at the Office of the First Lady in Goderich. Esteemed representatives from prominent organizations such as UNFPA, Partners in Health, Irish Aid, UN Women, UNICEF, Goal Sierra Leone, CDC, IRC, and others dedicated to combatting child exploitation actively participated in this crucial engagement.

During the 77th UN General Assembly last year, First Lady Fatima Maada Bio played a pivotal role in advocating for the official UN resolution designating November 18th as the World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Violence.

The resolution, presented to the General Assembly by First Lady Fatima Maada Bio, underscores the importance of nations, international organizations, leaders, civil society, NGOs, faith leaders, academic institutions, and businesses coming together to commemorate the day in a way that best serves their respective communities.

With the November 18th Day for 2023 approaching, H.E. First Lady Fatima Maada Bio proactively convened Partners to discuss her proposed plans for the commemoration. Her vision includes a three-day event from November 17th to November 19th, 2023, bringing together rape victims and survivors to raise public awareness about the challenges faced by survivors, especially children who have endured sexual and gender-based violence. She aims to encourage collective efforts to prevent these issues and protect society.

During the meeting, the First Lady presented her proposals to the partners, urging them to explore ways in which they can support Sierra Leone’s 3-Day Initiative. She also expressed hope that some victims, whose educational progress may have been hindered, will receive scholarships to continue their education at secondary and tertiary levels.

First Lady Maada Bio stressed the importance of providing a supportive platform for survivors throughout the planned 3-Day event to ensure they feel supported during their recovery journey.

Development Partners in attendance expressed deep appreciation for First Lady Fatima Maada Bio’s dedication to this cause and pledged their support for the Initiative. They believe that hosting such an event will underscore Sierra Leone’s commitment to recognizing November 18th as a global day of acknowledgment for the challenges faced by victims. Partners have enthusiastically assured their support while looking forward to contributing suggestions and insights in the days ahead.

The engagement concluded on a positive note, with group photographs taken to mark this collaborative effort towards child protection and healing.