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Freetown, Sierra Leone, 27 June 2022-

 In line with its transformative agenda of accelerating progress towards ending gender-based violence, UNFPA provided support to the convening of the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights (ACSHR) which was held in Freetown from 27 June to 1 July.

The biennial conference, convened by the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights and hosted by Purposeful Sierra Leone in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, was attended by UNFPA delegates from West and Central Africa, East and Southern Africa, and the Arab States regions. Fabrizia Falcione, Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa, led the UNFPA delegation to the Conference.

UNFPA supported the hosting of a Youth Pre-Conference, a platform for voices of young people from across the continent, on June 27th and 28th, and facilitated the participation of 175 young people in the conference.

Held under the theme of ‘Accelerating the Elimination of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Africa’, the conference brought together civil society, governments, UN Agencies, human rights activists and development partners for a dialogue on a common approach to ending violence against women and girls in Africa.

Speaking at the opening of the Youth Pre-Conference, UNFPA Representative Nadia Rasheed told over 350 participants from 41 countries that the conference was “an incredible opportunity to connect with other young people and with distinguished experts and decision makers from across the continent. It’s an opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills, to be exposed to different perspectives, and to fuel your advocacy on the issues that you are most passionate about.”  UNFPA, she said, was committed to working with stakeholders including governments, civil society and youth-led organizations towards accelerating progress to end GBV and in creating spaces for young people’s voices to be heard on all issues affecting them.

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Youth Affairs, Hon. Mohamed Orman Bangura, in his remarks at the Youth Pre-Conference underscored the critical need to invest in young people and promote dialogue and understanding across cultures and generations that would advance human rights for all people. “To ensure that development policies work for everyone, we must use human rights as our foundation. We must promote and protect the human rights of all young people, especially the most vulnerable ones,” Minister Bangura said.

During the Conference, Ms. Falcione, joined an expert panel at a high-level breakfast convened by the First Lady of Sierra Leone. She also participated in a panel of experts for a discussion on the theme of ‘Bodily Autonomy, Reproductive Justice and Violence against Women and Girls.’

“I am truly proud of UNFPA's support to the Conference. The transformational energy from grassroots, civil society and the movements made of people from all walks of life is today concentrated in one spot thanks to the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights. Young people, including young girls, are vocal in claiming their rights, their space and a life free of all forms of gender-based violence and harmful practices where sexual and reproductive health and rights are granted to all,” said Ms. Falcione.

Closing the conference on July 1st, President Julius Bio disclosed plans by his Government to enact a new Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Act that would decriminalize abortion in Sierra Leone.  “I am determined to break the culture of violence against women and girls in this country and to work with you to make Africa safer and freer for all of us,” he assured the audience.



Media Contact:

John Baimba Sesay | Web and Media Analyst | UNFPA Sierra Leone | Tel. +232 30953193 |