The American International University in West Africa has conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone in recognition of her outstanding humanitarian and philanthropic interventions across the globe.
This recognition was bestowed on Mrs. Fatima Maada Bio at an auspicious awards ceremony in The Gambia on Saturday June 4 2022.
During the citation presentation, Prof. Adama Sallah said Mrs. Bio epitomises bravery, intelligence and servant leadership, as evident in the massive impact being recorded by her humanitarian and official work across the globe.
The Prof. highlighted the rich academic background of the First Lady including her graduation from the Roehampton University with BA Honours in Performing Arts, which qualifies her as an International Actress and Script Writer.
“In 2015, she graduated with a BA Honours in Journalism from the prestigious London College of Communication in the United Kingdom,” he announced.
Mrs. Bio, he said, has led numerous gender, philanthropic and child welfare campaigns even before she became First Lady.
According to him, Mrs. Bio in 1999 became the Champion of Meningitis Disease in Africa in her teenage years.
“She was the first to donate the sum of $10,000 for the fight against Meningitis in The Gambia,” he disclosed.
The Prof. further disclosed that Mrs. Bio was the Pioneer of the Face of The Gambia Beauty Pageantry as a beauty queen herself.
“Many young ladies today In The Gambia who have excelled in their various fields went through the training of Mrs. Bio,” he pointed out, adding: “In 2002, she launched the biggest award ceremony exclusively meant to celebrate and promote women, which is the Gambia Women of Excellence Award”.
The First Lady has won the prestigious Best African Woman Actress Award, which she has been using to empower women and girls in the United Kingdom and Africa.
As First Lady, she is on record to have hosted one if the biggest peaceful protest marches against gender and child abuses – a campaign that was not only attended by her counterparts in the region but raised international attention to the issue of rape and gender abuses. This marks the start of her flagship Hands Off Our Girls Campaign.
He described the Hands Off Our Girls Initiative as the biggest and most impactful child rights campaign that led to a presidential declaration of national emergency on rape and sexual violence and the ultimate review and strengthening of the Sexual Offences Act.
She also played a major role in the establishment of the first ever Special Court that is now being used to prosecute rape offenders.
He also highlighted the launch of the free sanitary pads distribution campaign spearheaded by the First Lady as an offspring of the Hands Off Our Girls Campaign and to complement the Free Quality Education Initiative of the Maada Bio led Government of Sierra Leone.
She is currently constructing an ultra modern 500 beds hospital, which will become the biggest hospital ever constructed by an African First Lady, a nursing school, center of excellence for rape victims and an administrative block.
She has constructed an ultra modern vocational school for police wives, provided livelihood support through the national food basket, constructed 11 Mosques with some having Arabic Schools.
“She has distinguished herself in the entertainment industry as an actress, script writer, executive producer and multi-award winner,” the Prof. pointed out.
Her advocacy resulted in the recruitment of the first exclusive female brigade of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
The Prof. went further to reiterate that the African Union appointed Mrs Bio as Champion for Sanitation and Hygiene.
The United Nations, he said, has also honored the First Lady as the Champion for the UNAIDS Education Plus Initiative alongside President Macky Sall of Senegal.
She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.
“Her philanthropic character is inborn and she is a fantastic role model that leads by example,” he highlighted.
“Her greatest strength is her ability to achieve any gaol she sets. Some say it is divine. People close to her say it is pure undiluted hard work. While others insist it is a combination of both divine intervention and hard work.”
Strategic Communications Division
Office of The First Lady
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