Sierra Leone’s Zainab Bangura sky-rocketing women’s issues

Culled from the SIERRA EXPRESS :

The Africa-America Institute (AAI) proud distinguished Alumna who bagged the AAI 2011 September Award, daughter of the beautiful soil and vegetation of Sierra Leone, Zainab Hawa Bangura continues to champion the cause of women, making the world a better place for them, putting Sierra Leone in the limelight.

Zainab in her new assignment as the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in conflict, has pushed countries to recognize that sexual violence in conflict has no place in society.

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In an interview with Reuters, Zainab whose experience in war-torn Sierra Leone and Liberia, told the News Agency that one rape for her is too many, and seen as a devastating weapon against the progress and livelihood of women. The vulnerable ones being the most pathetic, she opined.

“I took up the UN challenge in 2012 and since then, had seen a political momentum that is unprecedented”. Buzzfeed reported 140 member states that have committed alongside Zainab’s endurance to ending rape in conflict in cognizance of the UN Declaration.

Striking Goal

The striking goal that Zainab scored early this year, the second month in 2014 to be exact, was when her office struck another victorious carpet goal by the signing of the UN and the AU Agreement to prevent and respond to conflict-related violence in Africa. When the UN and AU took the leadership challenge to compliment the efforts of women like Zainab Hawa Bangura in an accelerated mood among women of excellence, Sierra Leone must be proud to own such a visionary figure.

“Life is what you make it”.  Mother Theresa of the Catholic faith once said that the potential of achieving all that life gives in terms of prosperity is something you have to chase. The world is now seeing Zainab chasing life for all women across the globe.

Zainab Hawa Bangura was former Minister of Health and Sanitation of the Sierra Leone Republic, and also former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the Ernest Bai Koroma led government. A Ministry she completely overhauled to an ultra-modern Tower Hill, Sierra Leone’s stature in the international arena.

The AAI 2011 Honoree, before becoming a government Minister was the Chief Civil Affairs Officer in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), heading one of UNMIL’s largest civil components. In that position, she played a leading dynamic role in coordinating UNMIL’s participation in the restoration and consolidation of state authority in Liberia, following that country’s 14 year civil conflict.

From 1996-2006 Mrs. Bangura established and led two of Sierra Leone’s largest and most influential pro-democracy and anti-corruption NGOs – The Campaign for Good Governance and the National Accountability Group.

Mrs. Bangura at various stages in her career has worked as an Adviser and Consultant for the World Bank, UNDP, and UNHCR on a variety of issues including community empowerment, inclusion and social development. This great woman who during the 11 years civil conflict in Sierra Leone also fought for sustainable peace, both local and international, has also served as an Election Observer in Presidential and Legislative Elections in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo.

Zainab Hawa Bangura before her new UN appointment in 2012 during her tenure in the Health Ministry pioneered the launched of the National Health Sector Strategic Plan 2010-2015, successfully supports the launch of the Free Health Care Initiative by President Koroma, the Basic Package of Essential Health Services, the Reproductive and Child Health Policy, the implementation of 27 Health Facilities in five districts in the north, east and south under the ADB Strengthening District Health Services Project (SDHSP) has now come into fruition with their successful completion.  The establishment of the Health Ministry’s Compact Agreement with development partners and the Joint Programme of Work was also timely. When there was hiccups in the storage and distribution of the Free Health Care drugs and the Cost Recovery drugs, she introduces a distribution matrix supported by partners to address the challenges of criminality and delay at the port.

Her slogan: “One Health ministry, One boat, One boat, One direction”, and her usual unannounced visits to health facilities across the country to ensure quality health care services and staff welfare is secured, helped greatly in building a healthy system during her administration.

By Bai Lama Kamara

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