President Julius Maada Bio and First Lady Fatima Maada Bio on Friday, 3rd February, 2023, urged the Women’s Wing of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to settle their differences and bridge existing gaps so as to enhance peace and development in the party.
Since the SLPP Women’s Leader elections was held in 2021, there had been differences among the women of the party, a situation that has the tendency to deepen divisions and negatively impact on the June 24, 2023 general elections.
“As leader of the SLPP, I am kindly begging you to forget about your differences and work together for the common goal. There should be no more camps. You should forgive each other,” President Bio told the audience who were mainly women, adding that, the SLPP was not only the best political party but the strongest that spreads across all regions of Sierra Leone.
He said he has never shied away from empowering women because he knows the power that is inherent in women, recalling that in the 2012 elections, he chose a female running mate so as to send a message that women were the most precious assets in Sierra Leone.
“We cannot develop Sierra Leone when the potential of half of our population, which is women, is locked up. As long as I am President, women will remain an integral part of our country’s development. To show that I am committed to empowering women, three weeks ago, I assented to the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) Act 2022,” President Bio added .
He noted that, because of his commitment to protecting school going girls, preventing teenage pregnancy, which was so rampant before he came to power, this has now decreased by 33% through the ‘Hands off our Girls’ campaign, a statistic that underpins the importance he attaches to women’s empowerment.
Sierra Leone’s First Lady, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, said that for President Bio to attend the first ever Women’s Council Conference, in which she was serving as the Public Relations Officer (PRO), showed that he was committed to promoting the affairs of women.
She urged the women to always be nice to people and that they should not only do so when they are getting closer to elections, but that as politicians, they should be servants and not queens.
“My position as a First Lady does not mean that I am better than you. So, you should not be ashamed to come closer to me so as to chart the way forward of our party,” she told her membership at the conference.
She admonished SLPP women to come out l to contest for elective positions such as Members of Parliament (MPs), councilors, mayors, and chairpersons of local councils, and urged other women to mobilize and embark on a campaign that will lead to the election of women in the aforementioned positions.
“I know that President Bio is committed to giving 30% quota for women’s representation. However, in the SLPP, we are kindly requesting that it should be 50/50 representation. We have women that are capable of handling any administrative office,”First Lady Fatima Maada Bio said, as the crowd gave her resounding applause, indicating that they were in support of what she said.
Women’s Leader of the Party, Hawa Foray, said when she won the elections in 2021, she discovered that there were divisions in the party, noting that she immediately embarked on a reconciliation tour across the country.
“We, the women of SLPP, are appreciative of President Bio’s initiative to implement free quality education, which has significantly removed the economic burden of paying school fees,” she said.
The SLPP Women’s Leader made several requests that her membership wanted President Bio to support them with. Prime amongst the requests were micro credit loans through the MUNAFA Fund and motorbikes.
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Office of The First Lady.