October 5, 2017 By Victoria Saffa
Office of the First Lady, together with other organizations, Civil Society groups and paramount Chiefs, has ended a two-day high level meeting on ending child marriage in West and Central Africa.
The meeting was held at the Atlantic Lumley Hotel and it brought together important stakeholders from UN Organizations, Paramount Chiefs, and the Media, among others.
The main objective of the meeting include, to coordinate organizations in preparation for the high level meeting , to share success, challenges, innovations, and opportunity to end child and teenage pregnancy and to use lessons learnt to build consensus on key national messages for advocacy at the high level meeting to be held in Senegal.
Speaking during the meeting, First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma stated that, since she took up office, she has been a great advocate on ending child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and maternal mortality, while also empowering girls with their education.
She said the high-level meeting will be hosted in Senegal this month while Sierra Leone will be the Co-host to address the plight of children in Sierra Leone, especially in the area of early Marriage and teenage pregnancy.
“I am working in partnership with the First Lady of Senegal to end child marriage and teenage pregnancy and I want Sierra Leone to be an example,” she stated.
Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affair, Rugiatu Nenneh Turay, said as a ministry, they have always collaborated and stood by the Office of the First Lady in addressing welfare, using right based approach for vulnerable categories in the country especially women and girls.
She continued that the Sierra Leone Demographic Health Survey (SLDHS) report of 2013 states that there was a decline in the number of underage marriage as compared to 2008 SLDHS Report, adding that the 2013 SLDHS report suggests that 13% of girls are married by age 15 years while 39% are married by age 18.
Madam Turay continued that as country, they have come a long way in putting in place policies, laws, and institutional mechanisms to address fundamental human rights abuses against women and girls.
She said the President Agenda for Prosperity has several strategies aimed at addressing, protecting and advocating for the welfare of women and girls especially pillars 3, pillar 6 and pillar 8 among others.
In her statement, Country Director of UNWomen, Mary Okumu, stated that child marriage and teenage pregnancy contributed to 60% of maternal death, adding that ending child marriage is about protecting early death for children.
“So many people believe in their cultural practice by giving out their children to early marriage. I have a culture but I don’t compromise with culture that kills and that Sierra Leone is an Africa country but it belongs to a global village,” said.