Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 October 2018:
The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone – Mrs Fatima Bio, told young Africans at the Hall of Fame Award event in New York, that when women are empowered in Africa then Africa will be empowered.
She made this statement during an inspiring valedictory speech at the United Nations Plaza, where she was honoured as one of the most influential 100 people of African descent under the age of 40.
Mrs Fatima Bio received the prestigious “Hall of Fame Award” for her outstanding contribution in humanitarian work and was given the special honour to present the valedictory speech on behalf of all awardees for the class of 2018.
Mrs Bio exudes passion and determination, not only through her excellent work as the First Lady of Sierra Leone, championing issues of women and children, but also through her powerful valedictory speech on that day, a demonstration of the fact that she is fast becoming one of the strongest voices advocating for the empowerment of African women.
During the ceremony, a Lifetime Achievement Award was also presented posthumously to Kofi Atta Annan in recognition of his service to humanity at the United Nations and his contributions to Africa.
Speaking about the challenges women face in Africa, the First Lady said that women are the assets of Africa and they should not be silenced but must be empowered.
She said that the continent would need to have men who can also support women to achieve their potential.
Mrs. Bio also narrated her journey as a movie icon and a campaigner for her husband to become President, while she continued to support him as his wife and the First Lady of Sierra Leone.
“Even during our political campaigns, there were people who used to question why was I playing such a leading role. But because of my empowerment, I was focused and determined to support my husband to become our President,” the First Lady said, and also spoke about the contributions of Winnie Mandela toward the success of the late President Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
The eloquent First Lady also used her farewell speech to advise young Africans on the need to use their various platforms in the diaspora to positively impact the lives of other Africans.
“The greatest achievement is not the number of awards you receive but the many lives of Africans you have changed,” she averred.
As someone who is also passionate about Sierra Leone, Mrs Bio used her speech to market the small beautiful West African nation to young African entrepreneurs and professionals from various fields.
She told them that: “If you have heard anything negative, in the past, about Sierra Leone, I am here to confidently inform you that Sierra Leone is the most beautiful country in the world.”
She also told them about the many investment potential in Sierra Leone.
The First Lady also used her goodbye speech to shower praises on her husband – president Bio, and spoke about how proud she had always felt about his impressive work as President.
She spoke about her husband’s passion for education, which she said should be the priority of all African leaders as a way to empower women and children on the continent.
“I call on all other African leaders to emulate what my husband has done to introduce free education for children from pre-primary to secondary school,” Mrs Bio said.
President Julius Maada Bio, who was the special guest at the award ceremony, also received many commendations for gracing the award ceremony, which many said was a show of his passion for young people and his commitment to a united and prosperous Africa.
Other speakers at the award ceremony included the anthropologist Dr Sheila Walker; Director, New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Craig Mokhhiber and Coordinator UN Senior Africans Group and CEO African Renaissance and Diaspora Network, Dr Djibril Diallo.
The Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) recognises high achievers of African descent in public and private sectors from around the world, as a progressive network of relevant actors to join together, in the spirit of recognition, justice and development of Africa, its people on the continent and across the diaspora.
You can watch Mrs Bio here speaking about her work: