WAVE is joining the CSW65 events and attended the meeting “Power Up! Gender Justice for Adolescent Girls and Young Women in sub-Saharan Africa — The ‘Education Plus’ Initiative”.
The meeting was convened by UNAIDS in collaboration with UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women and co-hosted by the Governments of Benin and Luxembourg.
The high-level advocacy initiative presented in the meeting is called “Education Plus”. The initiative is focused on a rapid scale-up of multisectoral action and investments in response to the alarming numbers of adolescent girls and young women acquiring HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Its vision is a world in which every adolescent girl and young woman completes secondary education and is empowered to lead a secure, healthy, fulfilling, and productive life, free from gender discrimination, violence, and HIV.
The initiative challenges government decision-makers at the highest levels to model leadership and fulfill their essential duties to realize every girl’s rights to health and education. It brings added pressure to persuade governments to roll out universal secondary education, free for girls. Completion of secondary education, an urgent concern in the COVID-19 context, also protects against HIV—with drops in new HIV cases among adolescent girls and young women by as much as one-third to one half in some countries.
The initiative is a rights-based, gender-responsive action agenda to ensure adolescent girls and young women have equal opportunities to access quality secondary education, alongside key education and health services and supports for their economic autonomy and empowerment. It will foster an enabling environment for adolescent girls and young women to enjoy safe and fruitful learning experiences, and to thrive while paving their way to vibrant futures. The rewards will also reach far into the longer-term, with inter-generational effects: Empowered girls are the empowered women of the future.
Leaders from African governments, continental bodies, development partners and young women’s movements took part to the meeting engaging in a compelling exchange about the initiative and on how to arrive at the gender transformation as described by the UN Sustainable Development Goals deadline.
Challenge decision-makers and donors to significantly scale-up investments, policies and actions on education and holistic, multi-sectoral interventions for adolescent girls and young women to prevent HIV and gain many other social and economic benefits, including for those already living with HIV.
The initiative’s game-changing proposition is simple but ambitious–and long overdue. Transform the promise of gender equality into a reality.
Written by WAVE intern Diva Adelaide Edosini