“While we have made major progress in broadening girls’ access to primary education, far too many girls are leaving school early.”
“Africa is the world’s youngest continent,” said U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power. “Forty percent of its population is under the age of 15; another 200 million youths are between 15 and 24.”
“It is also one of the most dynamic continents – with 6 of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies,” she added.
The lives of Africa’s children have been improved. Mortality of children under five has been reduced significantly, malaria mortality has been cut in half, and school enrollment has improved, with nearly 80 percent of children now enrolled in primary school.
“Despite these advances, children in many parts of Africa continue to face daunting obstacles,” said Ambassador Power.
Under-five mortality in Africa remains the highest in the world; more than 3 million African children under age 5 are living with HIV; and the continent still has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.
“I would like to . . . focus on one persistent challenge . . . keeping girls in school,” Ambassador Power said. “While we have made major progress in broadening girls’ access to primary education, far too many girls are leaving school early.”
“We must make schools safe for girls,” she said. “This need was brought into sharp relief by the recent abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls by Boko Haram . . . Put simply: no girl should be forced to choose between being safe and getting an education.”
“We [also] need to reduce the pressure on girls to abandon their studies prematurely – whether it is to care for siblings or get jobs; bear children; or simply because their education is undervalued,” she continued.
“If, together, we can make it safer for girls to go to school, and keep them there, then we will knock down one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of their collective destiny,” said Ambassador Power. “We will help them seize their rightful place as the leaders of Africa’s very bright future.”