Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a visit to Sierra Leone as part of the United Nations World Day commemoration, the First Ladies of Angola and Nigeria have lauded Sierra Leone’s First Lady, Fatima Bio, for her steadfast commitment to protecting the girl child.
President Julius Maada Bio, addressing the congregation at State Lodge on Friday, November 17, 2023, recalled that Sierra Leone proposed a resolution to the United Nations about a year ago, declaring November 18 as a world day to recognize victims of sexual exploitation and violence. The resolution, jointly supported by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was overwhelmingly backed by many other member states globally.
President Bio expressed gratitude to nations and partners that supported the resolution, highlighting Sierra Leone’s initiatives in addressing issues affecting women and girls. These include the launch of the Hands Off Our Girls initiative, declaring rape as an emergency, reviewing the Sexual Offences Act, and enacting the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act.
During a prayer session at the State Lodge, First Lady Fatima Bio welcomed her counterparts and commended the Angola First Lady for her support. She also acknowledged the Nigerian First Lady for honouring the invitation, emphasizing Nigeria’s historical support during Sierra Leone’s civil war.
The First Lady stressed that the day was dedicated to standing in solidarity with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), encouraging them not to see themselves as victims but as survivors. She expressed pride in her husband, President Bio, for his role in protecting the women of Sierra Leone and emphasized the importance of serving humanity beyond politics.
Her Excellency Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the First Lady from Nigeria, praised First Lady Fatima Bio for her bold steps in protecting women and girls, asserting that First Ladies have a role beyond complementing their husbands. She strongly spoke against men who brutalize women and commended President Bio’s government for its efforts in protecting Sierra Leonean women.
First Lady Ana Dias Lourenco from Angola expressed gratitude for the invitation to commemorate the UN World Day and applauded First Lady Fatima Bio for her “Hands Off Our Girls” initiative aimed at protecting the girl child. SKS/20/11/2023