Meeting at the African Union (AU) summit in Lusaka, Zambia on Monday, the leaders launched an initiative called “Education Plus,” high-level advocacy supported by the entire United Nations system, to get more girls into education which will dramatically reduce their vulnerability to HIV.
More than 23,000 young women died from AIDS-related diseases in 2020. Young girls in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of HIV. It is the second leading cause of death among women aged 15-29 after maternal mortality.
As a sustainable solution, keeping girls in secondary school and providing them with life skills, training and employment opportunities is key to ending the AIDS pandemic in Africa.
Education Plus calls for free and quality secondary education for all girls and boys in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025; universal access to comprehensive sexuality education; fulfilment of sexual and reproductive health and rights; freedom from gender-based and sexual violence; school-to-work transitions, and economic security and empowerment.
African heads of state pledged to take action to keep adolescent girls in school when launching the initiative Monday, July 18, which would “significantly reduce their vulnerability to HIV.”
Ten African countries including, Benin, Cameroon, Eswatini, Gabon, Gambia, Lesotho, Malawi, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Uganda have so far committed to the initiative which is jointly convened by five United Nations agencies, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women and brings together governments, civil society and international partners.