Today, International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region (IPPFAR) joins the rest of the world in celebrating the International Day of the Girl under the theme: ‘My Voice, Our Equal Future’.
IPPF Africa Region is committed to raising awareness on the need to eliminate all forms of discrimination against the rights of African girls.
Through the Youth Action Movement (YAM), IPPFAR’s youth volunteer body, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to girl-led advocacy and leadership by ensuring that African girls are involved in key-decision making activities at country, regional and international levels. Various YAM empowerment campaigns and girl-focused programmes have enabled girls to create the future they want by giving them platforms to raise their voices and accelerate change in their communities.
IPPFAR and its Member Associations are duty-bound to facilitate and improve girls’ access to sexual reproductive health information and services as this will not only empower them, but help them make informed decisions about their health. It is imperative to observe that girls who have passed through our youth programmes now hold influential positions in their communities.
Today’s celebration comes amid the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the African girl in various ways. With schools often being a safe space for girls, their closures have predisposed them to various risks, such as teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), female genital mutilation, child abuse and sexual gender-based violence.
Reports of girls being married off early have also increased, with parents -many of whom have lost their livelihoods because of COVID-19, doing so for economic gain. Movement restrictions and social isolation have also confined girls at home, leaving them with the burden of laborious domestic work and care giving.
IPPFAR takes this opportunity to implore on African governments to unequivocally provide Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) for in and out of school youth -as this is among the means that would empower girls and reduce their vulnerability.
Read the French version of this statement here.