African Leaders meeting at the 4th mid-year coordination meeting of the Africa Union held have endorsed the Education Plus Initiative and pledged their support at its continental launch held in Lusaka, Zambia.
H.E Mr Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairperson of the Africa Union who launched the initiative said “It is my pleasure to join you on the occasion of the ceremony to launch the continental “Education Plus Initiative” under the leadership of the Organization of African First Ladies (OAFLAD) in support to children and young girls in particular,” He also indicated that “There is need for action to promote women’s rights and autonomy, to fight against the discrimination and violence which girls and women face. We must address gender inequality at all stages of life. At the continental level, AU Member States are committed to accelerating the implementation of gender-specific economic, social, and legal measures aimed at combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic by adopting various policy and legal frameworks including the Maputo Protocol.”
On the occasion, the President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E Mr Hakainde Hichilema said “My government has committed to the provision of free primary and secondary education for all,” he also noted that “Education is the greatest equalizer and with appropriate education, everyone is given an opportunity to explore their full potential and be able to participate in the development process. Access to education empowers both girls and boys as it enhances their ability to access decent jobs and other means of production thus alleviating poverty.”
The launch was held in partnership with UNADIS and convened by the First Lady of Zambia, H.E Mutinta Hichilema. On the occasion, the executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima said “We are making progress in Africa but not fast enough,” She also noted that “We need to urgently address the gender inequalities that still plague the continent, with devastating impacts on poor girls and young women. We don’t have a minute to wait. Working together, we can all end discriminatory laws and harmful social norms, so that our girls are healthy, educated and empowered and can lead our continent, Africa, forward.”
On the occasion, Ms Leyla Gozo, Executive Secretary of the Organization of African First Ladies for Development said “We lend our voice to the transformative call for gender-inclusive education in Africa,” said, “First ladies are uniquely positioned to amplify this initiative.”
For the last 20 years, African First Ladies have been playing a vital role in building awareness and harnessing political commitments to the broader health and development agenda through their organization, OAFLAD. This network of First Ladies has brought together more than half of the continent ‘s First Ladies to join hands to advocate for the rights of the most vulnerable of
Secondary education has multiple benefits, including increasing their economic earning potential, reducing risk of acquiring HIV and fulfilling their needs. Africa particularly, women and children. African First Ladies have been collaborating with the African Union in designing campaigns that accelerate the implementation of programs within the African Union policy frameworks.