By Mary Kabay
This medium was reliably informed that senior officials of UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), drawn from the two institution’s headquarters and regional offices, are in the country to engage in several activities including the 10thAfrica Conference on Sexual and Health Rights (ACSHR) which commenced at the Bintumani International Conference Center on the 27th June and will last until the 1st July 2022, with about 700 participants from across the continent attending.
Ms. Åsa Regnér, UN Assistant Secretary-General (ASG), and UN Women’s Deputy Executive Director are accompanied on the visit by Ms. Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa. Both were in Liberia, where they met with top Government officials, including the Liberian President, His Excellency George Opong Weah, and members of the UN Country Team there.
Ms. Fabrizia Falcione, UNFPA Deputy Director for West and Central Africa Region is also in Freetown as part of a week-long visit to the country. She will have an opportunity to familiarize herself with UNFPA’s programs in Sierra Leone and will meet with Government officials, development partners, and program beneficiaries.
“I am looking forward to being in Sierra Leone and engaging with Africa’s civil society organizations and other key stakeholders on critical thematic issues on gender-based violence and reproductive health and rights, but also to meeting with governmental and non-governmental partners and with beneficiaries of UNFPA’s programs in Sierra Leone,” noted Ms. Fabrizia Falcione before she came.
For ASG Regnér and Regional Director Oulimattu Sarr, their visit to Sierra Leone is aimed at strengthening and re-affirming UN Women’s support toward the advancement of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls with a view to furthering advocacy and partnerships in line with the development agenda of Sierra Leone and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The ASG is expected to meet with His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, the Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass Bundu, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Gender and Finance, and members of the Female Parliamentary Caucus, and the Statistician-General.
She will also meet with members of the Diplomatic Corps and Heads of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) development partners, civil society organizations, women, and youth groups in Sierra Leone.
The three senior UN officials will also meet with the UN Resident Coordinator (RC), Babatunde Ahonsi, and members of the UN Country Team in Sierra Leone.
Close to 24 international UN staff, mainly from UNFPA and UN Women, are attending the Conference, where the RC delivered remarks at the opening ceremony.
UNFPA’s Executive Director, Ms. Natalia Kanem, addressed the Conference at the opening via video link. ASG Regner made a statement at the closing ceremony, and Ms. Falcione will participate in a panel on “Partnerships to End Violence: Centering Social Movements as the solutions for perspectives and commitments from Governments, UN agencies, and donors.”
The 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights (ACSHR) is a biennial conference convened by the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights. It is hosted by Purposeful, an Africa-rooted global hub for girls’ organizing and activism. First Lady Fatima Bio is the Chief Patron.