In a speech on the theme “Women and Girls in the Face of Instability”, Her Excellency Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, the First Lady of Sierra Leone, highlighted the critical role of stability in safeguarding the rights and future of women and girls in the country. She emphasized the strides made in advancing women’s rights while highlighting the potential risks posed by instability. Dr. Maada Bio commended the nation’s progress in protecting women and girls’ rights and credited her husband’s leadership for positioning Sierra Leone as a global advocate for female empowerment. Notably, President Bio’s initiatives on girls’ education and promoting women in leadership roles have garnered international recognition.
As a staunch advocate, Dr. Maada Bio reiterated her commitment to the ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ campaign and recently spearheaded a United Nations resolution addressing the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence.
However, amidst celebrations of achievements, Dr. Maada Bio cautioned against the looming threat of instability, highlighting its historically devastating impact on women and girls during conflicts. Recalling Sierra Leone’s past, she vividly portrayed the harrowing plight endured by women and children, emphasizing their vulnerability to abuse, torture and exploitation.
Citing alarming statistics from UN Women, Dr. Maada Bio highlighted a 50 percent surge in the number of women and girls affected by conflicts globally since 2017, underscoring the mounting challenges in safeguarding their rights. According to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, women and girls in conflict zones face multifaceted challenges, including heightened gender-based violence, limited access to education, and increased economic pressure on women as primary providers for their families.