During an august meeting known as the Women Deliver Conference hosted in Vancouver, Canada deemed to be the largest gathering for gender equality in the world – Her Excellency the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Madam Fatima Maada Bio, delivered a powerful statement on the reforms needed to strengthen the power of girls and women in Sierra Leone.
Based on her statement the First Lady was commended for calling for an end to the cutting of girls as part of a rite of a passage ceremony, while maintaining the tradition, knowledge and power that come with the gathering of women and girls that is central to the Bondo society.
She called for looking at many countries where the sacred spaces, tradition and culture associated with secret society and initiation have been nurtured and respected, but where cutting has been successfully banned.
“It is time for Sierra Leone to join a growing movement of girls, women and their allies who are calling for a world where girls can live free of all forms of violence, including Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation,” she eloquently underscored.
The First Lady was applauded for her clear, bold and courageous statement that education is a basic and fundamental human right that should be enjoyed by all girls, irrespective of their social status or circumstance.
Her expressed wish to meet with those impacted by the policy banning pregnant girls from school before she is able to make further statement on the matter was well noted.
In light of what she highlighted, Purposeful and the Coalition for Girls Education said they are delighted to extend a formal invitation to Her Excellency to come and listen to testimonies from girls affected by the ban at a Special Girls Court Hearing – The Citizens Assembly will convene on June 27, 2019 – the same day the ECOWAS Court will hear a formal case brought by partners to overturn the policy banning pregnant girls from school in Sierra Leone.
Purposeful looks forward to working with the First Lady and the Government of Sierra Leone in their collective effort to build a world where girls are safe and free to enjoy their full human rights.