Our time is now—our rights, our future

by Amref Health Africa

A critical requirement for achieving transformational change for gender equality is the empowerment of girls. As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl, 27 years after the ratification of the Beijing Declaration, girls in Turkana County continue to face tremendous obstacles in terms of their education, their physical and mental wellness, and the protections against harmful practices such as early and forced marriages. The girl child in Turkana also faces additional challenges including HIV, poverty, substance abuse, child labour, cattle rustling, and natural disasters like drought.

When we say we want girls to be empowered, it doesn’t mean we are leaving boys behind or boys don’t need empowerment, it’s that we are running back to get the girls from where the boys left them when they were doing house chores, getting pregnant & married under age!

Dr. Githinji Gitahi Group CEO, Amref Health Africa

Adelina Ekai* (not her real name) from Lokori, Turkana East is a beneficiary of the Imarisha Jamii OVC program which aims to improve the health, education, protection, and socio-economic outcomes among children living with and affected by HIV, their caregivers, and families. There are currently 9,055 children enrolled in the scheme, of which 4,580 are female.

One cannot solve a problem while engaging the same level of thought that generated the problem in the first place. To realize the vision of the Beijing declaration, we need to do things differently. This is why Imarisha Jamii has made concerted efforts to focus on girls’ education. Girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, and education is a pathway to access progression and empowerment. Investing in the empowerment of adolescent girls upholds and defends their rights today and promises a more just and equitable future in which women are equal partners in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.

Through the Imarisha Jamii OVC program, Adelina* a student in Turkana East is receiving school fees support, scholastic materials and dignity packs. She is also receiving care and treatment services through a program-supported Health Facility.

The program also provides vital social support and implements targeted household economic strengthening interventions like strengthening financial skills and savings among older adolescents and facilitating linkage to employment opportunities for AGYW to improve socio-economic capacity and assets among OVC families.

Achieving gender equality and women empowerment is integral to each of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Justice and inclusion for today’s and future generations to come cannot be achieved without ensuring the protection of the rights of women and girls across all the goals.

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