๐’๐ข๐ž๐ซ๐ซ๐š ๐‹๐ž๐จ๐ง๐ž’๐ฌ ๐…๐ข๐ซ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐‹๐š๐๐ฒ ๐ƒ๐ซ. ๐…๐š๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐š ๐Œ๐š๐š๐๐š ๐๐ข๐จ ๐€๐๐ฏ๐จ๐œ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐†๐ข๐ซ๐ฅ๐ฌ’ ๐„๐๐ฎ๐œ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐š๐ง๐ ๐„๐ฆ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐š๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ–๐ญ๐ก ๐Ž๐€๐…๐‹๐€๐ƒ ๐†๐ž๐ง๐ž๐ซ๐š๐ฅ ๐€๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฆ๐›๐ฅ๐ฒ

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 18, 2024.

Her Excellency Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, the esteemed First Lady of Sierra Leone, has delivered a compelling address at the 28th Ordinary General Assembly of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Amidst the Assembly’s resonating theme, “Educate Her and Transform Africa: Enhancing Access to Health and Education for the 21st Centuryโ€™s African Women and Girls”, Her Excellency underscored the pivotal role of education and healthcare in shaping Africa’s future.

In her impassioned speech, she emphasised the imperative of concerted efforts to empower women and girls through education, highlighting its profound impact on their capacity to contribute meaningfully to the continent’s development.

Acknowledging the unwavering support of her husband, His Excellency Retired Brigadier Dr. Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, the First Lady expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the Presidentโ€™s commitment to radical inclusion and various initiatives aimed at advancing education, equal rights, and women’s empowerment in the country.

Her Excellency lauded President Bio’s dedication to allocating a substantial portion of Sierra Leone’s GDP, specifically 22% to education, demonstrating the government’s steadfast prioritisation of education as a fundamental driver of national progress. She further highlighted initiatives aimed at enhancing equal access to education, including the provision of transportation, free books, and free meals in remote areas, ensuring equitable opportunities for all citizens.

Further in her statement, Her Excellency explained the successes of the “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign, which is designed to combat gender-based violence and promote gender equality in Sierra Leone. Through initiatives such as the distribution of free sanitary pads, menstrual hygiene orientation programs, and advocacy against issues like rape, early marriage, and teenage pregnancy, the campaign aims to safeguard and empower young girls in Sierra Leone.

Drawing attention to the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) Act, Her Excellency Dr. Fatima Maada Bio highlighted its provision for a 30% quota for women, emphasising the critical role of legislative measures in advancing gender equality and ensuring women’s representation in decision-making processes at all levels.

The 28th OAFLAD General Assembly serves as a pivotal platform for influential female leaders and advocates to convene, exchange ideas, and reaffirm their commitment to driving positive changes for African women and girls. Through collaborative action and unwavering determination, participants aim to pave the way for a brighter and more prosperous future for all.

โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ..

Strategic Communications Division,

Office of the First Lady,

Republic of Sierra Leone.

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