Contributed by Fatima (Wahab) Babih
Congratulations Your Excellency, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, on becoming president of the Republic of Sierra Leone!
Mama Salone Blog wishes to express our utmost respect for you and sincere support of your leadership. May the Almighty bless our nation with abundant Peace. May He guide and protect you every step of the way. And May He guide your leadership decisions as you rule our beloved country in the next five years or beyond!!
Mama Salone Blog may not be on the band wagon with many of our compatriots whose way of showing patriotism is by glorifying you, before you even get the chance to tackle the smallest of our national issues. Rest assured, however, that Mama Salone Blog will commend you whenever your performance deserves it.
Mr. President, as the election dust settles, and the reality of governing a nation with dire challenges sets in, we hereby take this opportunity to call your attention to girls’ and women’s issues in our beloved country.
Mr. President, as you well know, a little over half of our country’s population is female (51%). But majority (63%) of this better half of the nation is illiterate and absent in the non-agricultural labor force and national governance.
This means that you have inherited a nation in which a huge percentage of its vital human capital is unable to contribute meaningfully to the development of our nation.
You are also no stranger to the fact that women in our country are perishing every day in the performance of the most natural of their human function in society, childbirth.
Our maternal mortality rate is so high (1,360 deaths per 100,000 live births) that our country has been labeled by international media as the worst place in the world to be a pregnant woman.
You are also aware, Mr. President, that the majority of our girls (over 60%) do not complete senior secondary school, that a high number of our adolescent girls (68%) succumb to early pregnancy, and that a high number of pregnant adolescent girls are dying in childbirth (40% of maternal deaths in the country).
To make matters worst, a huge number of our girls (52%) are married before the age of 18.
From the perspective of Mama Salone Blog, these problems are tantamount to national crisis, no less devastating to the nation than disease outbreaks and natural disasters.
Mr. President, would you eat a half-baked cake?
Given its current deplorable condition, if our country were a cake, Mr. President, it would be a half-baked cake because of the incapacity of women to fully partake in its development, due to the systemic gender discrimination in our society.
As we are sure you would not eat a half-baked cake, so is our assurance that there could never be true socioeconomic progress for Sierra Leone, until girls and women attain equal opportunity to develop their capacity and fully contribute in nation-building.
In Mama Salone Blog’s view, the gravest crime committed by your predecessors, (both APC & SLPP administrations), is their neglect of issues affecting girls and women in our country.
Your predecessors failed girls and women woefully; they did not treat women’s issues as national priorities. Instead, your predecessors paid lip service by enacting toothless laws and policy instruments that were never effected. At the end of the day, your predecessors left women and girls in worse conditions than they found them.
As you can see Mr. President, the majority of girls and women in our country have endured a dreadful existence for decades, due to actions and inaction of your predecessors.
But make no mistakes, Mr. President, our Salone women are some of the most intelligent, resourceful, capable and resilient human beings you could ever find anywhere in the world. With beauty and grace to boost!
We are quite sure you will agree with us, especially since you know very well that you could not have won this election without the massive effort of women. Even though the surface of your campaign was male dominated, we all know that women were the grassroots foot soldiers that maintained the lifeline of your campaign. Not even illiteracy could stand in their way.
Mr. President, girls and women are not asking for charity or handout from you or anyone else. All they need from you is to level the playing field, by empowering them through education, healthcare and equal chances in national governance.
Mr. President, it is a moral imperative for you to shift the paradigm for women in Sierra Leone, so that our national cake could be fully baked for all to enjoy.
We believe in the honor system; therefore, Mr. President, we are putting our trust in your words, as expressed during your campaign and in your Manifesto (New Direction). We know that you have the ability to right many of the wrongs your processors inflicted on girls and women in our country. We have faith in your willingness to make good on your promise to take, not only the nation, but the trajectory of girls and women of Sierra Leone in a “New Direction.”
On this note, Mr. President, Mama Salone Blog will, henceforth, pay close attention to your decisions, actions, inaction, and general treatment of socioeconomic, civil, political, and other relevant issues pertaining to the welfare and empowerment of girls and women in the Land That We Love.
Once more, Congratulations president bio!
May the Almighty guide you and
may he bless Sierra Leone!!
Maternal deaths in Sierra Leone