Sierra Leone ends child marriage as Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2024 comes into force

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 July 2024:

President Bio of Sierra Leone on Tuesday signed the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2024 into the country’s statute books, after approval by parliament last week.

The signing which took place at a ceremony in the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown and witnessed by international development partners and foreign diplomats, also marked the launch of the Organisation of the Africa First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD).

The WeAreEqual Campaign in Sierra Leone focuses on tackling gender-based violence, fight health inequalities, promote education and economic empowerment for women and girls.

President Julius Maada Bio, while welcoming a group of African First Ladies to Freetown, said he was honoured by their kind invitation to be part of the launch of the #WeAreEqual Campaign in Sierra Leone. He emphasised the country’s readiness for the campaign with his government’s commitment and assured of their concerted efforts to widen the political, economic, social, and legal space for girls, children, and women to express themselves and participate in national development.

“Gone are the days when First Ladies were mere accessories. These are vestiges of the past that we are eager to discard because they signify missed opportunities to leverage such a powerful office to extend the reach of government. This generation of First Ladies has set a standard of excellence. It has positioned its offices to drive policy, shape national discourse, and champion the causes of the vulnerable, especially our women and children in Africa seeking equity and equality.

“I have no doubt that the campaign will further enhance the abilities of our girls and women in nation-building and global development. My government has launched and implemented the most radically progressive and impactful initiatives for the advancement of women and girls. Sierra Leone today is among the top performers in gender equality and empowerment. The recent World Bank Report on Women, Business, and Law scored Sierra Leone 92.5 out of 100, significantly higher than the regional average of 74 in sub-Saharan Africa,” President Bio said.

The President noted that “the Abolition of Child Marriage Act of 2024, which came just before the first anniversary of my second term, is the catalyst for the launch of the #WeAreEqual campaign in Sierra Leone, which resonates with the theme of the campaign – ‘Abolish Child Marriage to Keep Them Learning’.

“Ladies and gentlemen, today I want to publicly acknowledge and pay special tribute to this generation of African First Ladies. What you are doing in your countries is game-changing. You are at the forefront of fights that are changing the course of history and giving voice to over half of our population, who have been downtrodden, voiceless, and disempowered for far too long. You are leading the change in righting a great wrong, and I will say it again: we are proud of you”.

The President said passing the Abolition of Child Marriage Act 2024 into law, is an accomplishment that would define his administration.

“I hope it will be a seminal part of the story of how our women led the economic transformation of Sierra Leone, making our country a beacon of hope in Africa, where women have boundless opportunities to lead, determine their own future, and inspire the world”.

The First Lady of Namibia –  Monica Geingos, who doubles as the immediate past President of OAFLAD, said that their campaign argument was not about the fact that women and men are the same, knowing full well that they are not the same. She pointed out that “even when we are not the same, we are equal, which is why we are taking the campaign across the continent”.

The OAFLAD’s immediate past president called on authorities to protect women and girls by joining their campaign, pointing out that “our concern is the child. Leave children alone to grow because it is easier to raise a broken child than a broken adult”.

The First Lady of Cape Verde – Debora Katisa Carvalho, said that despite the passing of the Abolition of Child Marriage Act 2024, there is every reason to change societal behaviour in cases of child marriage in hard-to-reach communities. She called for effective collaboration to end gender disparity on the continent.

Minister of Women Affairs in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Barrister Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, on behalf of the First Lady of Nigeria, called on Africans and Sierra Leone in particular, to join the First Lady – Fatima Maada Bio, and other First Ladies on the continent to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls. She called on the community to speak out about anything they saw that was against the rights of women and girls.

First Lady of Sierra Leone and host of the grand event, Mrs Fatima Maada Bio, said that Sierra Leone is at an advanced stage in the implementation of the initiative of the #WeAreEqual Campaign, since the launch of her ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ campaign in 2018. She said the aim is  to close the gender gap in the country and across the continent.


  1. To me, EQUALITY between two things means that you can replace one with the other and ALWAYS get the same result. Is this ALWAYS the case?

  2. I know not what is meant by “We Are Equal”.
    I know that We, Women, Are DIFFERENT BUT NOT INFERIOR

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