First Lady - Fatima Bio

In a groundbreaking event aimed at empowering adolescent girls and addressing their physical, mental, and reproductive health, Sierra Leone’s First Lady, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, delivered a powerful keynote address at the Adolescent Girls Health Summit 2023. The summit, organized by the West African Women and Girls Empowerment, took place at the prestigious Freetown City Auditorium on Tuesday, October 10, 2023.

Under the theme “Breaking Barriers on Adolescent Girls Health,” the summit gathered key stakeholders, including representatives from government, NGOs, and the academic sector, to discuss the pressing challenges faced by adolescent girls in Sierra Leone and develop effective strategies to overcome them.

During her welcome address, Mariama Janneh, Program Director of the West African Women and Girls Empowerment, expressed her gratitude to all attendees and emphasized the importance of meaningful deliberations to address the health issues affecting girls. She emphasized the summit’s goal of ensuring access to education, healthcare, and protection against harmful practices for all girls.

Mamadu Barry, President of the Children Forum Network, shed light on the challenges girls face regarding mental health. He passionately called for the formulation of policies that address sexual reproductive health and support girls’ well-being and rights, including access to education and healthcare.

Kadie Luseni, Advocacy Officer of Marie Stopes Sierra Leone, stressed the need to combat the scale of inequality in society and debunk stereotypes that hinder girls’ progress. Luseni emphasized the importance of targeted initiatives, education, and accessible healthcare in empowering young girls to take control of their health and unleash their boundless potential.

A representative from World Vision International Sierra Leone highlighted the critical issue of maternal and child health, emphasizing the importance of providing comprehensive information on nutrition, hygiene, contraception, and menstrual health. These measures play a vital role in ensuring the well-being of adolescent girls.

Salamatu Jagitay, IPAM Student Union President, drew attention to the unique health challenges faced by girls from adolescence through adulthood. She highlighted the increasing prevalence of mental health disorders among university students and appealed to the government to invest in the mental health of young girls pursuing higher education.

UNFPA Country Representative, Madam Nadia, expressed her deep appreciation for the organizers and emphasized that breaking barriers and ensuring the health and well-being of adolescent girls require collaborative efforts from families, communities, government, and NGOs. She commended the unwavering commitment of Her Excellency in championing the rights and well-being of girls and women.

In her keynote address, Her Excellency Madam Fatima Maada Bio highlighted the correlation between substance abuse and mental health. She addressed the national concern surrounding the growing issue of Kush intake and stressed the importance of policies and regulations that tackle the root causes of substance abuse.

Furthermore, Madam Bio urged adolescent girls to abstain from engaging in sexual activity at a young age, citing the potential risks to their physical health, unintended pregnancies, and exposure to sexually transmitted infections. She emphasized that adolescence is a critical time for emotional and psychological development, urging girls to focus on education, personal growth, and future aspirations.

Madam Bio encouraged girls to engage in open dialogues with their parents and seek guidance from positive role models and mentors who can support them on their health journey.

The Adolescent Girls Health Summit 2023 concluded with a lively Q&A session, providing attendees with an opportunity to further delve into important topics and gain insights from the distinguished speakers.

The summit, spearheaded by Sierra Leone’s First Lady, was a significant step towards empowering adolescent girls and ensuring their holistic well-being. By promoting comprehensive health education and breaking barriers, the summit aimed to create an environment where every girl can thrive and achieve optimal health.



Strategic Communications Division

Office of the First Lady