Prior to their last distribution of equipments to Traditional Birth Attendants in the fifteen and thirteen chiefdoms in the Bo and Bombali Districts respectively for sensitization and outreach programmes, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has completed a one-day training for 38 Paramount Chiefs and 38 Religious Leaders from those chiefdoms as a way of engaging them into the fight against maternal mortality, teenage pregnancy, Gender Based Violence, HIV/AIDS and other complicated diseases at the Hotel Sahara on Wednesday 20th October 2010.
Welcoming participants at the session, the Southern Region Gender Desk Officer in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mrs. Jeneba Alice Koroma thanked the paramount chiefs for leaving their busy schedules to be in attendance.
Making a statement on behalf of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, the director of Gender Mrs. Fatu Kargbo said UNFPA believe that development can only take place with the involvement of Traditional Leaders she described as community role models on whom the people rely. “Against this backdrop we are bringing you on board for the effective sensitization for the reduction of maternal deaths, teenage pregnancies, Gender Based Violence and HIV/AIDS,” she informed. She pleaded with the participants to support the program to help alleviate poverty in the country.
Giving an over view of the training, the Gender and Advocacy Manager for UNFPA Mrs. Isatu Kajue said their organization is committed to salvaging the population. She said that clearly meant bringing everybody involved, including youths, women and children for development to take place in their lives. “We want to bring everybody on board for the effective implementation of the project,” she noted. She in that regard called on all stakeholders to help their women, children, communities and the country in particular in the fight against preventable deaths.
In his contribution, Paramount Chief Masa Paki Kagbombom II of Mapaki Chiefdom, Bombali stated that he has engaged his chiefdom youths in a daily registration exercise of pregnant women, with a weekly reminder to the women to attend clinics. “I have a stipulated fine for all those that fail to take their wives for checkups,” he disclosed, saying that strategy has tremendously helped his chiefdom in the reduction of maternal deaths.
Paramount Chief Ruth Fawundu Songa IV of Gbo Chiefdom in the Bo District informed that she was in strong protection of the rights of women and children in her chiefdom which she said has greatly helped to cut down on Gender Based Violence.
In her presentation on reproduction, the Reproductive Health Officer for UNFPA Mrs. Jaria Kabba-Kebbay said reproductive health is a human rights issue which has to be accessible, affordable, and available to every one. She spoke on the importance of pregnant women to attend clinics for checkups; that girls should reach the age of consent before giving their hands in marriage among others.
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