For decades, African governments and international development partners have been trying to improve the health of women and children and reduce sufferings as a result of pregnancy and child birth. While improvements have been recorded, the rate is abysmally low and not near those of other regions of the world. Studies have shown that health of children substantially improve when the mother is educated. Completion of secondary education by girls has been found to significantly improve the health and Nutrition of children, improve women’s decision-making, as well as ability to earn a living; thus improving the health and nutrition of families and communities. This direct correlation between the education of the mother and health and development outcomes of families shows that the future of African families is dependent on the education of the girl.
As custodians of values in Africa, it is important that African Traditional and Religious Leaders take the lead in ensuring that our people are not left behind by addressing the root cause of the problems – that girls in Africa not only enrol but complete secondary education and also have livelihood skills. Our involvement and guidance to our people in this respect will provide the necessary legitimacy that is necessary for improvement in Maternal and Child health and livelihood of African families.
It is against this back drop that the Sultan of Sokoto, is bringing together African Traditional and Religious Leaders for a two-day conference to discuss this important issue and find solutions from within the rich and diverse cultures and values of the people of Africa. The objective of this conference is to bring together influential Traditional and Religious Leaders from across Africa to discuss the importance of keeping girls in school to complete 12 years of education as well as livelihood skills. The conference will also provide an opportunity for the leaders to share ideas and best practices, articulate and develop strategies, and networks that they will use to promote keeping girls in school. This will include how to motivate parents and care givers to be deeply committed to ensuring all girls in their constituencies remain and complete at least twelve years of education.
African Youth Groups would take the responsibility of supporting the traditional and religious leaders by amplifying the initiative and encourage other African Youth to mentor and actively participate in promoting Keeping Girls in School in their communities.
This Initiative will bring also bring together the voices of African female leaders that exemplify the importance of keeping girls in school and get them to support the movement across the continent. African Female Voices will use their influence to promote keeping girls in school in Africa and also also serve as mentors and role models that will inspire communities to do whatever it takes to ensure all girls on the continents complete twelve years of secondary education and have life and livelihood skills.
The conference will give an opportunity for each Traditional and Religious Leader to reflect and come up with ideas on how he/she would contribute to the movement of keeping girls in school in their communities by increasing enrolment, retention and completion of school as well as ensuring girls acquire life and livelihood skills. Following the conference, it is envisioned that traditional and religious leaders will have a platform to continue to network and regularly share experiences and learn from each other as well as leverage best practices on keeping girls in school in Africa.
At the end of the two-day conference, Africa’s Traditional and Religious Leaders would take a lead position as advocates for keeping girls in school in Africa and see themselves as champions and the group responsible for the success of the agenda for their communities and the continent. This initiative would be amplified by women and youth voices.
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