The UK’s Minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, has visited Sierra Leone to see how the UK’s longstanding partnership with Sierra Leone is improving the lives of some of the poorest people, including empowering women and girls.
Shortly following Sierra Leone’s first independently-run election since the civil war, the Minister had the opportunity to congratulate President Maada Bio on his inauguration. She also met members of his new cabinet to discuss how the UK can support the country’s ambitions to reduce extreme poverty and invest in its people.
Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent announcement that the UK is helping girls across the Commonwealth get twelve years of quality education, Ms Baldwin was able to visit a school where girls who have dropped out of class, often due to early pregnancy, are being supported through UK aid to return to education – giving them and their families hope for a more prosperous future.
Ms Baldwin visited a family planning clinic and spoke to female youth advocates to discuss how best to address the barriers currently facing women in the country.
The Minister also met with the Minister of Finance, the IMF and World Bank to discuss how the UK is supporting the Government of Sierra Leone to strengthen its ability to collect taxes, which it then invests in vital services such as health and education – to improve the lives of the next generation.
Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin said:
As one of our Commonwealth partners, it’s encouraging to see how the UK can support the new government of Sierra Leone to invest in its own people, to work towards a brighter, more prosperous future, free from aid dependency.
This is especially important when it comes to educating and empowering the next generation of girls and young women, who have huge potential to play a transformational role in economic and social development, when they are able to access 12 years of quality education and take control of their lives.
The UK is a longstanding partner of Sierra Leone, and played a significant role in helping the country tackle and recover from the devastating Ebola outbreak of 2014 and the severe landslides last year.
The UK has supported the Government of Sierra Leone to take responsibility for elements of their healthcare programmes – which has helped the country to be more resilient against future disease outbreaks and natural disasters.
Lessons learnt from dealing with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone are now proving fundamental in the fast response which is being led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to tackle the ongoing outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.