Niger hosted the third African Girls’ Summit on Nov 16th-18th 2021. Adolescent girls and Young women from across the continent present, made a strong appeal to African Leaders and the international Community present to guarantee their rights by educating them and banning early marriages as well as eradicating harmful practices such as FGM.
The African girl’s summit is a premier platform that convenes stakeholders across Africa on girls’ rights and wellbeing. The first girls’ summit was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Zambia in 2015, with the second hosted by Ghana in 2018. The summit seeks to draw attention to the social, legal and institutional issues around culture, human rights, and accountability, as they intersect with the elimination of harmful practices, and look to take stock progress since its first initiation.
Some of the key issues addressed during the summit were; COVID 19 effects on the adolescent girls and young women across the globe, child marriages, female genital mutilation and other regressive cultural practices, reentry of teenage mums to schools and data collection, presentation, analysis and interpretation.
Most notable discussion was on COVID 19 and its effects on adolescent girls as well as FGM.
Cases of early marriage, sexual gender-based violence and depression were so evident and on rise during the COVID 19 period. Forced marriage was also experienced where parents and guardians to the affected girls forced the girls to get married as a way of reducing the financial expenditure of the household since financial constrain was a threat to everyone globally.
Education system and timetable was distracted where most adolescent girls had to stay at home for a while before resuming school fully. Most of the girls underwent Female Genital Mutilation and some ended up getting married.
Below are some stories;
“Am 14 years of age now during the COVID 19 period I was mutilated and married off to 40 years old man who gave my guardians 4 bags of maize and beans, in my marriage my husband hits me often and he was to abusive so I decided to run away with my kid and life has been easy staying at my guardians they look at me as a failure but I want to go back to school but am not able to go back”
“ In our country girls are married off at age 10years and that is viewed as a norm I was married at 14years and stayed in my marriage for two years but my husband kept on saying he will kill me every time that Is my friend rescued me because he was about to kill me that day, I am now a student pursuing law so that I can advocate for justice for the girls wo are going through this kind of regressive social norms’
Among the dignitaries’ present were Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, special envoys from the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS and organization’s working for the welfare of girls.