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Giving girls and young women the opportunity to be whatever they want to be!

9 March 2020
And it’s finally out! The European Commission and European External Action Service’s just released its Joint Communication ‘Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa’. As part of the European Commission’s first 100 days programme, this joint communication provides a framework for the discussions to take place at the next EU-AU Summit in October 2020. In addition, it will shape further collaborations and EU actions under the EU-Africa partnership.

As Plan International, we welcome the recognition of young people and women’s potential and key role in transforming their continent towards peace, sustainable and inclusive development. This will require investments from an early age and throughout the life-cycle, including but not limited to their economic empowerment, as well as the space for them to speak out on what matters most to them.

In addition, we are glad to see that the communication underlines the need for action to make sure women and girls are included in the digital transformation. Gender norms and stereotypes, cost of access to digital technology and the internet, and violence against girls and young women online are key elements that prevent girls and young women from equally enjoying and being key drivers of the digital transformation.

We are also happy that see special attention is being given to girls and women education and how crucial it is to ensure their access at all levels. We agree that to unlock women’s potential, we need to address discriminatory laws and practices, and make sure they have equal access to the knowledge and resources they need to succeed. However, we believe we should be more ambitious! Especially when it comes to decent work, as is reflected by the 2019 ILO report women are still ‘often found in occupations that are the most vulnerable to decent work deficits, such as in domestic, home-based or contributing family work’. In addition, women continue to be affected by discriminatory gender norms, restricting them to choose freely what type of work or career path they would like to be pursuing. Last but not least, we remain concerned with access to quality education and training for girls and young women fragile settings and conflict situations – where they obviously face different hurdles.

Looking forward to an EU-AU Summit that gives girls and young women the space to be listened to, for a final strategy that truly responds to girls and young women’s aspirations!