First Lady Calls for Comprehensive Global Legal Framework to Combat SGBV

The First Lady of Sierra Leone, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, has on the 14th September, 2023 drawn global attention to the urgent issue of gender-based violence in a compelling speech which she delivered on the sidelines of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Speaking at the side event titled: “First Annual Free Future 2023: Preventing Gender Violence Around the World,” hosted by the Ford Foundation in partnership with the Government of the United Kingdom, the First Lady addressed a diverse audience that included world leaders, diplomats, activists, and representatives from various organizations.

Dr. Fatima Maada Bio used her speech to shed light on the critical challenges faced by women and girls in Sierra Leone and worldwide. She shared the remarkable success story of her groundbreaking campaign, “Hands Off Our Girls.”

The “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign has been instrumental in raising awareness and advocating for women’s and girls’ rights in Sierra Leone. It has sparked nationwide discussions and civic education on important issues, including menstruation, which were previously shrouded in stigma and silence. By dismantling the taboos surrounding menstruation and equipping girls with knowledge and resources, the campaign has significantly contributed to keeping girls in school, preventing early marriages and addressing the pervasive issue of rape.

Furthermore, the First Lady has taken the “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign to a global level by leading the adoption of two UN resolutions aimed at protecting women and girls. These resolutions have garnered international support and recognition, further strengthening the fight against gender-based violence.

In her speech, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio emphasized the need for concrete actions to solidify these resolutions into treaties or conventions, providing a comprehensive legal framework to combat gender-based violence on a global scale.

The First Lady issued a passionate call to the United States, urging the nation to take a leading role in addressing the global epidemic of sexual violence. She stressed the importance of collective action, cooperation, and a shared commitment among nations to create a world where women and girls are safe, empowered and free from violence.

“Gender-based violence knows no borders, and it is our duty as responsible nations to stand together and protect the rights and dignity of every woman and girl,” declared the First Lady during her address. “We need to start thinking of transforming the UN resolutions into strong treaties or conventions that will provide the legal framework to effectively address gender-based violence worldwide. I call upon the United States to play a leading role in this critical endeavor.”

Dr. Fatima Maada Bio’s speech received widespread acclaim, with many commending her unwavering dedication to combating gender-based violence. Her advocacy work resonated deeply with the audience, reinforcing the global call to action against this pervasive issue.

The side event, organized by the Ford Foundation and the Government of the United Kingdom, aimed to create a platform for leaders and activists to exchange ideas, share best practices and foster collaborations in the fight against gender-based violence.

As the First Lady of Sierra Leone continues to champion gender equality and the rights of women and girls her impactful speech at the UN General Assembly serves as a rallying cry for change. By highlighting the success of the “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign and her efforts in advancing UN resolutions, she has ignited a global movement to protect women and girls from gender-based violence.

The First Lady’s call to transform the UN resolutions into a treaty or convention underscores the importance of establishing a robust legal framework to address gender-based violence worldwide. Such treaties or conventions would provide comprehensive guidelines and standards, promoting accountability and ensuring the protection of women and girls worldwide.

The First Lady’s impassioned plea for the United States to take a proactive stance in addressing the global issue of sexual violence further emphasizes the need for international cooperation and leadership in confronting this critical challenge.



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