Adeline Melom is a 20-year-old Youth Action Movement (YAM) member from Chad, in Central Africa. Adeline is attending activities around the 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme of the Summit is: Investing in Youth in Order to Harness the Demographic Dividend”. Adeline’s participation in the Summit, together with those of other YAM members including Grace Banda, Issifou Diallo Agaichatou and Michelle Grace Phiri has been facilitated by IPPF Africa Region.
Adeline, a high school student, shares her thoughts on one of the issues that greatly troubles her as a young woman in Chad.
“I believe that Africa’s growth and development lies in its young people, and towards this end, they must be supported to explore their full potential. However, I get discouraged by the many challenges that young people face, which hampers their ability to be productive in society. In particular, I am saddened by the plight of young girls in my country, many of whom are married off at very tender ages to older men.
When this happens, their schooling is interrupted and it even becomes worse when they become young mothers because many times, it signals the complete end of their education. Yet, I believe that a quality education is central to the ability of young people, including girls and young women, to become more productive in the labor force and help them become economically independent.
Through my participation in this Summit, I have broadened my understanding on how we as young people can work towards our own productivity. When I return home, I will mobilize my fellow young people to brainstorm on the different ways we can highlight and solve the problems they face, and for those that we are unable to solve on their own, how we can engage other people to help us, such as lawmakers and other leaders.
As YAM –Chad chapter, we will strengthen our community mobilization and education efforts, where we will reach out to more young girls, parents, teachers, religious leaders and community elders in explaining to them the benefits of keeping young girls in school, and not marrying them off early.
After attending the Forum of African Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FPA) here, where I got to meet several MPs from different African countries, and even get to understand that they are deeply committed to youth investment, I have more confidence and I believe I’ll be able to approach Legislators in my country and ask them to be at the forefront in campaigning against early marriage of girls, and helping in the implementation of related policies, laws and programmes that support them girls and youth in general. My self-assurance in my capacity as youth advocate capable of initiating change in my community has been greatly boosted, and I thank IPPF Africa Region for enabling me to participate in this Summit.”
Story by Maryanne W. Waweru, IPPF Africa Region.