Videoconference, Freetown, Thursday 11 March 2021 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has engaged First Lady, Fatima Maada Bio, and other eminent Sierra Leonean women on “Women in Leadership”, in commemoration of International Women’s Day.
Mrs Bio said that the women of Sierra Leone were incredibly pleased and grateful for the President’s involvement with their efforts at observing the day in a very special way. She further stated that the level of participation of women in the day-to-day running of the state was a right step toward nationbuilding, adding that it was also a way of supporting women and girls to benefit from the human capital development drive of the government.
In a brief statement, the President of Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice (LAWYERS), Lawyer Fatmata Sorie, thanked President Bio, the First Lady and the government of Sierra Leone for the opportunity they continued to give women to serve the nation.
“Your Excellency, we pray that your government continues to work assiduously to see a reduction of violence against women and girls in the country. The issue of sexual penetration continues to be a challenge, but we applaud the government for the efforts in bringing perpetrators to book,” she noted.
In his remarks, President Julius Maada Bio recalled that in December last year he launched the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy, GEWE, for which the Gender Ministry would host a number of workshops to develop an implementation plan at all levels.
“This year, we will continue working on legislating GEWE into an Affirmative Action Bill that will permanently and significantly narrow or eliminate gender disparities in Sierra Leone.
“We see sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) both as a social cohesion and human capital development issue. We now have an amended and tougher Sexual Offences Act, a dedicated Sexual Offences Model Court, and an unprecedented jump in prosecution and conviction rates for SGBV offences. The First Lady’s campaign against SGBV is resonating with various populations,” he said.
The President also said that their work as a government was being recognised by UN Women, Generation Equality, RISE and that Sierra Leone had been invited to serve on the Board of the UN’s Women Peace, Security, and Humanitarian Action.
He said the country was an early adopter of international instruments that served to narrow gender gaps, noting that that was an indication they were on the right path and would continue to do more.
“As I close, I want to encourage more women to volunteer for leadership regardless of political stripe. On our part as a Government, we will continue working to dismantle institutional, structural, and other barriers to women’s empowerment and advancement. I will closely follow the discussions and outcomes of this meeting and see how best they will inform or support our collective and dedicated push as a nation on this question,” he said.
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