Girls’ education, child protection: UNICEF carves niche in Africa’s Agenda 2063
The Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Mr. Anthony Lake, has expressed UNICEF's full commitment and support to work with the African Union on the education of girls and protection of children within the framework of Africa's Agenda 2063. The UNICEF Executive and the African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, agreed on these focus areas when they met at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Tuesday 15 March 2016.
The UNICEF Executive Director said that he was very impressed with Agenda 2063, which he noted was in sync with the Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2030. “Africa's Agenda 2063 provides an opportunity for the transformation of two generations of girls in Africa,” Mr. Anthony Lake noted, lauding Dr. Dlamini Zuma's leadership on human rights, particularly on girls' rights, including the right to education.
“Girls' education on the continent is very critical. We know the benefits of educated children to families and societies at large. Girls education is paramount, and therefore needs a lot of emphasis.” The AU Commission Chairperson said, adding that, girls should also be assisted beyond basic education so that they can proceed to higher education. “Primary education is important, but no country has developed with primary education alone,” she noted.
Aside from girls' education, they also discussed the need to focus on nutrition to ensure proper early child growth, as well as give more attention to the protection of children in conflicts. Concurring with the UNICEF Executive Director, the AUC Chairperson highlighted the importance of focusing on the protection of both children and their mothers. This will protect girls from being made wives and boys from being soldiers when they are meant to be just children.
They two leaders agreed that AU and UNICEF will strengthen their partnership by developing and implementing a programme plan of action around Agenda 2063 across the continent in the coming years.