Hands off our girls

Elizabeth Brewah
Posted December 16, 2019 from Sierra Leone

Lady Fatima Bio has hosted a successful “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign event on the margins of the 74th United Nations General Assembly to raise global awareness on reducing early marriage and rape in Africa.

Speaking on her motivation to embark on such a laudable campaign, Her Excellency First Lady Fatima Bio narrated an emotional personal story, recalling that, because of their culture, at age 12 a suitor had already been identified for her. She spoke of the ordeal that she went through in trying to challenge that culture, especially with her father. She also told the audience of how she escaped the early marriage by traveling to London.

From the story of her upbringing, Her Excellency First Lady Fatima Bio also said that she was inspired to embark on the advocacy campaign because of the passion of her husband to protect women and girls in Sierra Leone. She narrated that before her husband became President, he would complain to her about many incidents of rape and other forms of violence against girls and women in Sierra Leone.

“I have advocated for women and children since my teenage years. When I met my husband, I fell in love with him and his amazing vision for Sierra Leone. My work revolves around his vision, and I get 100% support from him. For sustainable development, everyone must be empowered, especially our women and children.

“The President’s flagship programme of Free Quality Education is a move from reliance on natural resources to the development of human capital. The human capital is our most important resource. The need to prepare and protect our people inspired me to come up with the ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ campaign that was launched by my husband, the President, in December 2018,” she said. 

She also used the event to praise her colleague First Ladies who had continued to support the advocacy campaign through various initiatives in their respective countries.

Reiterating his commitment to the campaign, His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio said that women could make the world a better place, adding that: “We have wasted a lot of time in restricting the potentials of women and girls. I don’t need to support this campaign but to lead it”.

He also spoke about his motivation to declare a state of emergency on rape and sexual violence against women and girls and the promulgation of the new Sexual Offences Amendments Act of 2019. The President also spoke about using punitive measures to punish those who raped and committed sexual violence against women and girls whilst at the same time increase awareness across the country.

As a testament of global endorsement of Her Excellency Fatima Bio’s campaign, various statements were delivered by important global personalities such as Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation; Mr. Dereje Wordofa, UNFPA Deputy Executive Director; Rachel Yates, Executive Director – “Girls not Brides”; Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President African Development Bank; Her Excellency Mrs Clar M. Weah, First Lady of the Republic of Liberia and Her Excellency Mrs Emine Erdogan, First Lady of Turkey.

The declaration by the African First Ladies, to support the advocacy campaign on the reduction of early marriage and rape in Africa, was read by Her Excellency Jeannette Nyiramongi Kagame, First Lady of Rwanda. Many other First Ladies were also in attendance. The event was organised by the Office of the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone and supported by UNFPA, Save the Children and AFRICELL.

Comments 14

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Jill Langhus
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Hi Elizabeth,

How are you doing, dear? Thanks for sharing your inspiring update. Yay! This is great news. I'd love to hear more and more updates like these. This is definitely going in the right direction.

I hope you're doing well and having a great day!

Elizabeth Brewah
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Hi Jill, I am happy you like the update. I will keep you update as we go along.

I am doing okay and all is well on my end.

Merry Christmas

Jill Langhus
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

Hello there dear,

Great!

Happy Holidays!! XX

maeann
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you for sharing this campaign. I hope it brings awareness to your community.

Wusufor
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Hi Elizabeth,
Thanks for sharing, what a role model she is. I hope you are doing very well?
Take care
Lizzy

Elizabeth Brewah
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Am doing ok and we'll. Yes our First Lady is an amazing soul.

Merry Christmas

Elizabeth Brewah
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

This awearness has done a lot of good in our country. Men are beginning to realize themselves and the campaign is ongoing. Organizations are helping out in this process.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Hello, Elizabeth,

Wow, you have a great First Lady! This is great news indeed! Please keep on updating us. How do you feel about this?

Elizabeth Brewah
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Our First Lady is an incredible inspiring young woman who seeks to support women and girls.

I will keep updating you as we go along changing the narrative and bringing our meaningful campaigns.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

Hello, Elizabeth,

I could imagine that she is! There is a new hope for women in Sierra Leone with her as the First Lady. Yes, please, we would love to hear more. Have a great day!

Beth Lacey
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Lovely to read this

Elizabeth Brewah
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Thank you!

Anita Shrestha
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Thank you

ANJ ANA
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

Dear Elizabeth,
So good to see/hear you after along. Thank you so much for sharing the updates and congratulation for the important initiative led by the president and the first lady. the campaign is very inspiringly and I hope the promulgation of the new sexual offences amendments act will definitely help a lot in eliminating GBV in your country.
Best wishes,
anjana