Statement from the Pre-Youth Summit ahead of the 2nd African Girls Summit

Her Excellency the First Lady of Ghana,

We, the young people of the youth pre-summit of the 2nd African Girls’ summit would like to thank the African Union, the government of Ghana, UN agencies, supporting partners and all young people, specially girls for being the reason we are gathered here.
The Youth Pre-summit was held on the 21st and 22nd of November, 2018 and it brought together over 150 young delegates with 70% of them aged between 10 and 24 years old. This pre-summit offered a chance for young girls and boys to discuss and deliberate on innovative ways of addressing child marriage and other harmful traditional practices. The discussions were based on human rights, laws and practices, access to SRHR information and services, role of various stakeholders and sectors, framework and systems for addressing child marriage.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Acknowledging the provisions of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the AU Member States that have not ratified it namely:
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Morocco
• Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
• Somalia
• Sao Tome and Principe
• South Sudan
• Tunisia
In full awareness of the fact that the AU Agenda 2063 and the demographic dividend cannot be realized without strategic investments in young people especially young girls;
In line with the UN Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum age for marriage and Registration of Marriage;
And the provisions of the African Youth Charter;
Inspired by the protocol on the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on Women’s Rights and the Maputo Plan of Action 2016-2030 for the operationalization of the continental policy framework on SRHR; are resolved to continue playing a key role in the realization of the African Common position on ending child marriage and its campaign, as pledged during the first Girl Summit of November 2015.
Excellencies, Honorable delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Out of the aforementioned, we the young people at the conference demand that our voices are heard and call for the following actions
To States and governments:

  • We call on governments to mainstream and strengthen the implementation of policies and budget that aim to end child marriage, provide support systems for survivors of Child Marriage and enforce laws that criminalize perpetrators and supporters of child marriage;
  • We urge governments institutions to Increase effective coordination and collaboration with UN agencies, communities, CSOs and advocates to empower young people as agents of change;
  • We urge governments institutions to create platforms that meaningfully engage young people in programs and decisions making processes that aim to end Child marriages and other harmful practices;
  • We demand that government institutions strengthen integrated girl centered comprehensive sexuality education and adolescent friendly SRHR services for in and out of school girls with emphasis in (prison, refugee camps, conflict zones, youth with disabilities, girls on the street, etc);
  • Menstrual hygiene and health for young girls has to become a national priority with increased budgetary allocations towards products and services in line with it and the free provision of sanitary towels especially for girls that have difficulty in accessing them.

To CSOs, NGOs, UN Agencies, the AU:

  • We call on donors and funding organizations to prioritize allocation of resources to innovative, home grown and grassroot initiatives to ending child marriage and other harmful traditional practices. Community efforts to empower girls and provide technical, vocational and entrepreneurial careers paths must be recognized and fully supported towards the financial empowerment of survivors of child marriage.

To key stakeholders that are our parents, community leaders, teachers, medical professionals and the media:

  • We call on community leaders to engage governments to enforce and implement laws and policies that protect children from child marriage. All key stakeholders particularly, policy makers, legislators, religious and cultural leaders, parents and teachers must be accountable for their responsibility to safeguard the rights and dignity of their children especially the girl child.
  • We call on the media to raise awareness and promote social behavioral changes that sustainably address the causes and consequences of child marriage;

To Young people:

  • We call on young people to actively participate and be involved in efforts to end child marriage. Young people must be informed and equipped with sound knowledge of laws and instruments that promote their fundamental Human rights. Girls, especially survivors of child marriage must be at the forefront of the fight.
  • We call on young leaders to mobilize and empower other young people to stand up, speak and challenge harmful socio-cultural, religious and traditional norms and promote positive pan-African values that encourage the shift of the narrative around the role of girls in communities. Young people must bring innovative and creative ideas to promote the rights of girls and engage more people on the fight to end child marriage through media platforms, digital media and arts.

Ladies and Gentlemen;
Building on the experiences from the 1st African Girls Summit where girls did not meaningfully participate in the decision-making process, we thank you for hearing our cry and engaging more girls meaningfully in this second summit. And just as you heard our cry for this, we urge you to expressly act upon our call for action and we will assess progress made in the implementation of these calls for action at the next summit.
Thank you!

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