The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio has today made global history again by sharing the same platform with the Duchess of Cornwall, President of the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, and the First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda, among other high-level world leaders, to speak with one voice on the menace of violence against women and girls.
Mrs. Bio was the only visiting First Lady that was carefully selected to address world leaders at the high- side event on violence against women and girls at the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda.
The First Lady’s passionate and hard-hitting speech calling on global leaders to be united to protect women and girls was severally interrupted by thunderous rounds of applause from the audience.
She started by thanking all stakeholders across the world that have refused to stay silent on the scourge of violence against women.
“Our voices and efforts are the only hope now for millions of women and girls through horrible situations across the globe,” she highlighted, adding: “We must stand up and intensify advocacy, mobilize communities, stakeholders, governments, decision, and policy makers for concerted actions against this global menace”.
“We must start with sustained national actions with a clear agenda to mobilize compatriots,” she emphasized.
According to her, its policymakers world started recognizing and letting women take their rightful space as global citizens.
Mrs. Bio singled out her husband for special praises for being a global He-For-She champion whose passionate and strategic national efforts are providing safe spaces for women and girls in Sierra Leone.
While cataloging the impressive strides of President Bio’s government on women’s empowerment and child welfare, she pointed out the facts that Sierra Leone declared a national emergency on sexual offenses, established a one-stop-center to care for rape survivors; implemented a national male involvement strategy; reviewed the Sexual Offences Act to provide for speedy trial and stiff penalties; established special sexual offenses model court; and intensified public advocacy against sexual offenses.
“We have been able to mobilize various communities including traditional and religious leaders, teachers, media, parents offenses to join the campaign to protect and restore against rights offenses,” she pointed out.
“With the realization that education is a great tool for women’s empowerment, more girls are current, ly benefiting from the free quality education initiative introduced by President Bio in 2018 the ban against pregnant girls in school lifted,” she disclosed.
Mrs. Bio also informed the audience of how her campaign has been distributing free sanitary pads and dignity kits to school children to keep them in school and creating awareness of menstrual hygiene issues.
President Bio’s government, she said, has laid a progressive Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Bill in Parliament, which is hoped to be passed into law soon.
Dr. Fatima Bio ended her thrilling speech by proposing the setting up of strategic and strong alliances with global partners and intensifying local prevention campaigns like the Hands Off Our Girls campaign.
“We should set up a collective global accountability mechanism to end violence,” she said.
“We say no more; no more silence on rape; no more silence against early marriage; no more silence on teenage pregnancy; and no more silence on discussing women’s health including menstrual hygiene. We say Hands Off Our Girls,” she ended.
President Dr. Maada Bio was a Special Guest at the event and he was spotted all smiles while and after his wife had delivered a very impressive speech at the global event.