Press release

UNAIDS appoints the First Lady of Sierra Leone as a champion for adolescent girls and young women

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 19 September 2023—UNAIDS has named the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Fatima Maada Bio, as a UNAIDS champion for the empowerment and engagement of adolescent girls and young women in Sierra Leone. UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, confirmed the appointment during a meeting with Mrs Maada Bio and her husband President Julius Maada Bio at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly taking place in New York.

“I am delighted to welcome Her Excellency Mrs Fatima Maada Bio to the UNAIDS family as a champion for adolescent girls and young women,” said Ms Byanyima. “The First Lady is a strong advocate for the empowerment of women and girls. I look forward to continuing to work together to end gender inequalities that drive HIV including sexual and gender-based violence, and to ensuring that our girls and young women have all the information and knowledge they need to lead healthy lives.”

Mrs Maada Bio is a leading advocate for the Hands Off Our Girls Campaign, a movement launched by President Maada Bio in December 2018 to ban early child marriage and end sexual violence against women and girls. In 2022, she spearheaded the adoption of the first ever World Day for the Prevention of, and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence, which is commemorated annually on 18 November.

Mrs Maada Bio is also a champion of Education Plus, an initiative launched by UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women to prevent HIV infections through free universal, quality secondary education for all girls and boys in Africa, reinforced through comprehensive empowerment programmes.

“My hope is for a future where all women have equal rights,” said Mrs Maada Bio. “Where women and men can sit at the same table and make decisions together, where women are given the space to lead. That is my hope because then we will know that real equality has arrived for us all.” 


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Sophie Barton-Knott
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