Press release from Purposeful –
At the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver, Canada – the largest gathering for Gender equality in the world – Her Excellency the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Madam Fatima Maada Bio (photo) made a powerful statement on the reforms that are needed to build the power of girls and women in Sierra Leone.
We stand with the First Lady as she calls for an end to the ceremonial cutting of girls as part of rites of passage ceremonies, while maintaining the tradition, knowledge and power that comes with the gathering of women and girls that is so central to the Bondo society. We call on the government of Sierra Leone to look to the many countries where the sacred spaces, tradition and culture associated with secret society and initiation has 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 all girls can live free of all forms of violence, including female genital cutting/mutilation.
Further, we commend the First lady in her clear, bold and courageous statement that education is a basic and fundamental universal human right that should be enjoyed by all girls irrespective of their social status or circumstance. We respect the Honourable First Lady’s wish to meet with those impacted by the ban on pregnant girls’ school attendance before she is able to make further statement. On this basis we are delighted to extend a formal invitation to Her Excellency, to hear testimony from girls affected by the APC ban, at a Special Girls Court Hearing. The Citizens Assembly will convene on 27th June 2019, the same day the ECOWAS Court will hear a formal case brought by our partners to overturn the policy that bans pregnant girls from attending school in Sierra Leone.
Purposeful looks forward to continuing to work with the First Lady and the Government of Sierra Leone in our collective struggle to build a world where all girls everywhere are safe and free to live in their full human rights.