First Lady Presents position Paper on successes and challenges on SGBV to the President on the 2nd Anniversary Celebration of Hands Off Our Girls.
Delivering the Keynote address, His Excellency Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio commended the First Lady and the presidential task force on Sexual and Gender Based Violence that comprises of people from different professions both nationally and internationally of which he is the chairman for a collective job well done.
“I want to thank the First Lady on your behalf, for a marvellous job; for commitment, for dedication, for tenacity and audacity”, said by president Bio. He further thanked her excellency for understanding the problems of girls and for the intuition for find like minded committed and passionate individuals from all sectors to work as a coalition, in finding a lasting solution to the issue of violence against women and girls, while he thanked every Sierra Leonean for not only believing in the Hands Off Our Girls Campaign, but also his Human Capital Development program, as women make up 52% of the country’s population.
According to President Bio, the Hands Off Our Girls is not limited to color, tribe or region and is beyond advocating and protecting the human rights of women and girls, but about greater awareness of gender and social norms and discriminating practices that have disadvantaged girls, proving equal access to education, justice, healthcare and other resources, as the HOOG fully compliments government’s human capital development flagship program.
His excellency concluded by stating the importance of education to the young kids, as he encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunity that will emancipate them from poverty in the future.
Her excellency Fatima Maada Bio while presenting a report on behalf of the task force for Gender Based Violence and children of Sierra Leone to the President, expressed her profound thanks and appreciation to His Excellency Brig. Rtd. Dr. Julius Maada Bio for his relentless support in the fight against rape and all forms of violence against women and girls in Sierra Leone, considering how passionate he is about the protection and empowerment of girls and women.
Highlighting some of the progress made by her office through the Hands Off Our Girls Campaign since its launch in December 2018, madam Fatima Maada Bio started with the Match that assembled other passionate First Ladies from across Africa in a peaceful protest match demanding for the men to Hands Off Girls and allow them to stay in school and learn, the pronouncement of rape as a National emergency, the Repeal of the Gender Offenses Act of 2012, the Free Sanitary Pad project, the opening of the Sexual Offenses court model, and the 80 convictions since the court was opened in July 2020, among others.
The journey according to Madam First Lady has been history making one with the help of the Global Campaign He4She champion, who is President Julius Maada Bio, while she continued to thank him for allowing her office to champion the National Food Basket, which gave direct supported communities, health-workers, ataya base, widows, paramount chiefs, bike riders and security personnel during the time when Covid-19 was at its peak all around the country.
In a letter written to President Bio by the First Lady, Madam Fatima lamented on the need for community ownership in the area of preventing child marriage, and give women the confidence to speak out when found in an abusive relationship, calling on lawmakers to consider punishing perpetrators and ensure bye- laws are being implemented to protect girls from child marriage, and make it in blue print that the official age for marriage in Sierra Leone is 18 years.
Minister of Basic and Senior secondary education, Dr. Moinina Sengeh educated the tools that no girl under 18 can give informed consent, hence boys and men must keep their hands off the girls, ad he encouraged the girls to take advantage of the Free Quality Education.
Making a statement on behalf of the Sierra Leone Police, the inspector General if police, Ambrose Sovula extended their continued support to the Hands Off Our Girls, while urging future perpetrators to Hands Off, as there will be no hiding place for criminals of such nature.
The C.E.O for the Maada and Fatima Bio Foundation, Mrs. Samba, disclosed to the public that the sanitary pad is their initiative as a foundation and distribution will commence in January 2021, as the drive behind the Free sanitary pad project, which is to compliment the effort of Government; as sanitary pad is a right and not a choice.
Chernor Bah, C.E.O of Purposeful foundation commended the First Lady for the political leadership in the fight against rape and other sexual offenses, while he disclosed that this is the first time in the history of Sierra Leone that every eye is turned to the protection of girls through the First Lady’s campaign, as his foundation is fully behind madam First Lady in ensuring that women’s voices are heard and they get a place society to thrive on equally with the boys.
The C.EO of Africell, Shadi confirmed the importance of the campaign and its successes, as it turns two, as his telecommunication company has been supporting the Office of the First Lady to tour the entire country in educating the people about the Hands Off Our Girls campaign message, and that they are committed to continue supporting such a laudable and impactful work by her Excellency.
Strategic Communication Division
Office of The First Lady
+232 303 68273