By: M. B. Kallon Cairo
It is no gainsaying that since he assumed office, His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio has been trying to achieve a change that will give women equal opportunities and treatments in politics.
To this end, he has taken affirmative actions, leading the drive that it is everyman’s duty to support women. H. E. Bio seeks to open the door for more women in socio-economic governance under the “New Direction” as a conceptual framework of the “One Formula”.
Since President Bio took over power in 2018, women have enjoyed political power that activists and feminists of yesteryears effortlessly sought to achieve. A case in point is the 30% Quota allocation to women in political governance. When implemented, it will boost the morale of women, thereby creating an avalanche of opportunities to access funds for political activities and to support women projects.
I will back my assertion of how President Bio has demonstrated strong beliefs in women’s empowerment and supporting women achieving their fullest potential.
The support giving to the Office of the First Lady has made it the most proactive of all times since its existence under the H.E President Bio. Her Excellency Fatima Bio’s activities has shone the light on the significance of that office serving as a strong pillar supporting the presidency.
In 2007, when President Bio was aspiring for the presidency, he chose Dr. Kadie Sesay as a running mate. Dr. Kadie Sesay is one of the strongest assets to Sierra Leone. Dr. Kadie Sesay was a lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone. Dr. Kadie Sesay is passionate, loving and understanding, with a magnetic character. Everyone knows her as a woman who was self-assured of her worth. Julius Maada Bio made sure that everyone recognized that positive correlation and starling character between him and Dr. Kadie Sesay.
The introduction of the 2021 National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools came again to everyone’s amazement. This is the first strive by any government in Sierra Leone to roll out a roadmap for the day-to-day running of schools. This National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools seek to ensure that schools in Sierra Leone are accessible to, and inclusive of, all children- especially four groups that are typically marginalized and excluded like: children with disabilities, children from low-income families; children in rural and underserved areas; and girls – who are currently pregnant and in school or are parent learners. This policy provides the platform for equity between boys and girls in education.
In 2020, President Bio launched the Gender Equity and Women’s Empowerment Policy that made up of 52% of the Sierra Leone population. This move by President Bio was pursued in fulfilment of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: 20 years after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security).
More on his payback to women, President Bio launched the Sexual Offences Model Court, demonstrating his stance to steadfastly protect the dignity of women as supported by First Lady Fatima Bios “Hands off our Girls” campaign.
As part of his government’s commitment to the fight against sexual and Gender-Based Violence against women and girls in Sierra Leone. This was preceded by the Sierra Leone Parliament passing “The Sexual Offences Amendment Act 2019” into law in September 2019. This act provides a maximum penalty for rape and sexual penetration of a child from fifteen years to life imprisonment.
Moreover, President Bio has appointed reliable and trustworthy women into key governance architecture, making 21% of female representation in MDAs. For instance: Ministries of Tourism and Fisheries, Resident Minister Western Region, Resident Minister North-West, Minister of Gender and Children’s affairs, Deputy Ministers in Finance, Mines, Local Government, Commissions, Western Area Commissioner NEC, Commissioner NACSA Boards – TEC Board (all women), Board Chairman NRA, General Manager NTB, to name but a few.
In like manner, President Bio has, for the first time, appointed Eight (8) disciplined and goal-driven female Information Attaches to Sierra Leone’s Embassies and Missions abroad: The Gambia, Liberia, Ghana, Brussels, USA, Iran, and South Korea. All these women are putting an amount of hard work into their jobs to get the desired results.
Additionally, President Bio has made other women appointments and recommendations into mouth-watering positions like the Office of the Attorney General in 2018 (Dr. Priscilla Schwartz), his campaign for the election of Judge Miata Maria Samba to the ICC Bench and the retention of the Auditor Genera Sierra Leone are all feathers in President Bio’s cap for the empowerment and promotion of women.