CSW68: Side Event on "Quality Education for Girls’: A Tool to End Harmful Practices"


The African Union Department of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI), through its Specialised and Technical Institution for Girls and Women’s Education (AU-CIEFFA) and the AU Department for Humanitarian, Health and Social Development (HHSD), jointly organised a side event on 13 March 2024, at the Mandela Conference Hall of the AU Permanent Observer Mission to the UN, in the sidelines of the 68th annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68), at the UN headquarters in New York, USA.

Organised in collaboration with the Governments of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire and the Republic of Uganda, the UN Special Representative of the SG on Violence against Children, and the Bakhita Partnership for Education, the event brought together participants and experts in the areas of education, gender, child protection, and humanitarian affairs, to discuss strategic ways to leveraging education which is the AU focus of the year 2024, as an effective instrument to address harmful practices.

Violence in public and private spaces poses a significant threat to girls' education, with an estimated 60 million girls experiencing sexual assault on their way to or at school each year. This violence results in lower attendance rates, higher dropout rates, and profound psychological and physical trauma. The event was an opportunity to explore challenges and solutions to break down barriers that hinder girls' access to education, including harmful cultural norms, early child marriages, school infrastructure, violence, and teacher development. One of the outcomes of the meeting was to propose solutions that will help develop policy reform aimed at strengthening safety measures for girls and young women against all forms of school-related gender-based violence in and around school and investing in gender-responsive teacher development and pedagogy amongst others.

Addressing the opening ceremony virtually from the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, H.E Prof. Mohammed Belhocine Commissioner of the AUC Department of ESTI, expressed the commitment of the AU to push for citizens who have a high quality of life and a good standard of living by recognizing education as a fundamental human and basic right for girls to thrive from birth without being discriminated or denied education opportunities. Similarly, the speech of H.E Amb. Minata S. Cessouma, Commissioner of HHSD, which was delivered by Amb. Fatima Kyari Mohammed, highlighted AU’s commitment to eliminate all sorts of harmful norms while fostering girls’ education, among others. Ms Etleva Kadilli, Regional Director of UNICEF ESARO on her part, pointed out that the Eastern and Southern African regions of Africa still have the highest rates of child marriages and are lagging in achieving the SDG targets by 2030. The Representatives from Cote d’Ivoire, Venerable Senator Makani Diaby, Vice President of the Senate and Uganda, Dr. Aggrey Kibenge, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender respectively presented their country’s experience on the theme of the event.

Dr. Quentin Wodon, Director, of UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) and Dr. Najat Maalla M’Jid, the UN Special Representative of the SG on Violence against Children, made critical linkages between girls’ education, ending child marriage and the benefit in earnings for girls. The opening ceremony was moderated by Ms. Angela Martins, Ag Director HHSD.

Participants also took an active part in two Panel discussions to address the thematic issues, which were moderated by Ms. Simone Yankey, Ag. Coordinator of the African Union CIEFFA.

For further information please contact:

 Lorato Modongo Palesa, Gender, data and Research Officer AU CIEFFA E-mail: modongol@africa-union.org

Tel: +267 71 110 196

For further Media inquiries please contact:

Esther Azaa Tankou, Head, Media and Information Division, ICD-AUC/ Communication Adviser, AU Permanent Observer Mission to the UN, Email: yamboue@africa-union.org, Tel: WhatsApp, +13478127195.

Azwe Success Barbara, Communications Officer | African Union International Center for Girls & Women’s Education in Africa | African Union Commission Tel: +226 25 37 61 55 | E-mail: BarbaraS@africa-union.org | Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Follow Us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn

Information and Communication Directorate, African Union Commission I E-mail: DIC@africa-union.org Web: www.au.int| Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Follow Us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn