Her Excellency Fatima Maada Bio was the special Guest of honour as the Republic Of Sierra Leone Armed Forces celebrated the International Women’s Day (IWD2021) at the Cockerill Military Head Quarters in the west end of Freetown. The event was organized by the RSLAF Service Women to showcase their active participation within RSLAF.
RSLAF has demonstrated commitment to women’s empowerment in so many ways including the recruitment of 300 all female personnel. RSLAF recognises the role of women, and are working towards making the service women realise their full potential. The commemoration of the IWD2021 and giving of awards to deserving officers is part of the move towards recognising the outstanding contribution of women and encourage the Service Women to do more.
Reflecting on the RSLAF Service Women day, which was declared by President Julius Maada Bio on September 7th, Madam Fatima Bio emphasised that women deserve to be celebrated and they archer today celebrating the new positive change in the Military. Deserving women should be promoted, they should be given the opportunity to serve in higher capacity. She cautioned the women in the Military not to subscribe to the popular mantra in the military “obey and complain later”, when it comes to sexual offences. First Lady Fatima Maada Bio then gave Sanitary Pads to the Service Women present. She said giving sanitary pads to these women in the military, is to improve hygiene for women and to ensure dignity especially when they are experiencing their monthly flows.
The First Lady calls on the male personnel to understand it is better to be together than alone. She furthered that the male counterparts should also be aware that women deliver extremely well when tasked with responsibilities. She, however, calls on the females in the military not to institute these changes by force but through diplomacy.
Giving the background on women in the military, Captain Alice K. Sesay traced the challenges women have been having in the military to as far as in the 1900s. Captain Sesay says women only got their first recruitments in 1987. “Even with this, women were just found in the supporting units and not in the infantries”, captain Sesay said. She thanked the new direction government for the special recruitment of 327 females into the military in 2019. Notwithstanding, she calls for the recruitment of more women into the military, and for these women to take part in international peacekeeping missions.
Giving her address, the CEO of SMART Women, non-governmental organization, Amira Catherine Koroma discloses that during their work, they have observed that the rate at which women with disabilities are being sexually abuse is high and therefore implores the government to be investing in its eradication. She also calls on the government to look into establishing more learning facilities for people with disabilities, as there is a limited number of them in the country. Also, she calls out for inclusiveness if equality is to be achieved.
The event climaxed with awarding of certificates to 30 female military personnel along with some of their male counterparts.
Strategic Communication Division
Office of The First Lady
+232 303 68273