The African Union Heads of State have collectively pledged support towards the Education Plus Initiative launched during the AU Mid-Year Coordination Meeting.
Gracing the luncheon, President Hakainde Hichilema commended the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) and the United Nations- UN Africa for their initiative to support the welfare of African girls and women.
President Hichilema noted that African girls and women have been marginalised for a very long time in accessing products and resources such as land, empowerment and education thereby making them vulnerable to negative vices such as early pregnancies and marriages, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases among other inequalities.
The Head of State urged his fellow leaders on the African continent to support the Education Plus Initiative, saying that education is the greatest equalizer with which everyone can explore their potential.
President Hichilema said this in his opening remarks at the High-Level Continental launch of the Education Plus Initiative on the sidelines of the AU meeting at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Kenneth Kaunda Wing.
President Hichilema acknowledged that access to education is important to saving lives of young people, that is why the government of Zambia is implementing various policies directed at uplifting the living standards of people without discrimination.
The President cited the free education policy, recruitment of over 30,000 teachers, Girls Empowerment and Women Empowerment Livelihood, promotion of girl participation in sciences and the re-entry policy as some of the programs being implemented to support a girl child in Zambia.
He disclosed that the keeping girl’s initiative targets to reach out to 80, 000 girls by assisting them with grants to support their school necessities and linkages to health services.
“Zambia will continue to implement new initiatives such as education plus to further enhance girl’s education. Government is also committed to working with the United Nations agencies to accelerate the project to achieve its full objective,” President Hichilema stated.
Government is committed to ensuring that no one is disadvantaged on account of gender, social economic status of their family or any other basis of discrimination in the country.
He however noted that the need to also support the boy child, indicating that they too are affected by challenges such as sexually transmitted, poverty and others.
The Senegalese President Macky Sall who is also AU Chairperson applauded the OAFLAD and partners for the commendable works that will see the lives of many young girls on the continent changing.
President Sall also pledged support towards the programme, which he described as a noble cause in bridging the inequality gender gaps in various African countries.
Giving her remarks in a video, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Winnie Byanyima disclosed that about 4200 adolescent girls and young women in Sub-saharan Africa are infected with HIV every week.
Ms. Byanyima further highlighted that six out of seven new HIV infections among adolescents aged between 15 and 19 are among girls.
She stated that the launch of this initiative is a milestone for the continent and needs the support of all Heads of state, highlighting the role of education in keeping girls safe and protecting them from HIV to reach their highest potential.
“We need to urgently address the gender inequalities that plague the continent with devastating impacts on poor girls and young women,” Ms. Byanyima said.
Ms. Byanyima disclosed that Zambia will be among the 11 governments putting in place the right policies and scaling up investments to guarantee free education for all children.
She commended the First Lady of Zambia, Mutinta Hichilema and other first ladies of OAFLAD for introducing the initiative spreading across Africa to protect the wellbeing of girls.
OAFLAD Executive Secretary, Leyla Gozo disclosed that the Education Plus initiative is a High-Level advocacy drive for the Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women in sub-Saharan Africa
Ms. Gozo thanked all African governments for adopting the free secondary education for all and called others to follow suit.
The Education Plus, 2021-2025 is a game-changing initiative that has been launched on the margins of the 2022 AU Mid-Year Summit to empower adolescent girls and young women and achieve gender equality in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Initiative will focus on accelerating HIV prevention among adolescent girls and young women, among the other multiple social and economic benefits which countries stand to gain from heeding the call for political action and leadership as embedded in the Education Plus, 2021-2025.
This is the most boring AU SUMMIT ever. I would rather watch paint dry
At least our President can confidently address a summit and everyone is able to understand. The other one could only stand in front of people after taking Jameson, and you could hardly understand his boring speeches. Well done HH on hosting a successful AU Summit.
Speeches do not bring about development. Your president didn’t promise the people good speeches, let him deliver on his promises.
This has been a very good week for the President and Zambians in general. Successful hosting of AU Summit, recruitment of over 30,000 teachers and more recruitment of nurses before end of this week. Leadership in action, well done HH. We are behind you.
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