Around 75 % of the population in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is under the age of 35. Young people in this region remain one of the most vulnerable and affected groups in the areas of HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender inequality.

SADC Member States have made strong commitments to put young people at the centre of their development efforts and strengthen investments in young people’s SRHR within several global, continental and regional frameworks, working towards ending AIDS by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.  

It is against this background that UNAIDS, in partnership with the SADC Parliamentary Forum, UNFPA, UNESCO, African Youth and Adolescents Network (AfriYAN) and Restless Development convened a Youth Indaba in October 2019 in South Africa.

“AIDS is still the main cause of death among young women in the SADC region. We need the boldness and courage of young people to walk the last mile. Young people need to know that they are fighting for leaving no one behind,” said Catherine Sozi, Director for the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa, during the indaba.

The aim of the indaba was to strengthen capacity and collaboration between young parliamentarians and youth activists to ensure that SRHR, HIV and gender equality are prioritized within national development agendas.

“It is inappropriate and unacceptable to design any strategy, policy or law without the involvement of young people. We cannot do anything that pertains to our future resources without youth involvement,” said the Vice President of SADC Parliamentary Forum (PF), Isaac Mmemo Magagula.

The programme of the Youth Indaba included several interactive sessions on innovative approaches to youth-led accountability, opportunities to share best practices and build networks and partnerships.

The last day of the meeting consisted of an intergenerational dialogue between the young participants and senior Parliamentarians and development partners, focused on placing young people at the centre of development, including supporting meaningful youth engagement and youth-led accountability.

According to SADC, people under the age of 35 are rarely found in formal political leadership positions. Therefore youth-led accountability ensures that young people are engaged and participate in decision-making that affects their lives and exercise accountability over those decisions.

“We commit to work collaboratively as youth researchers, advocates and young MPs for the achievement of set targets and commitments concerning HIV, SRHR, and gender equality for all young people in the SADC region, including being accountable to the constituencies we represent and the young people and communities we serve,” said Rahma Suleiman from AfriYAN in Tanzania, reading from a Joint Youth Commitment on youth-led accountability which was later on presented at the ICPD+25 Summit in Nairobi.  

Participants developed the outcome document referred to as the “Tshwane Declaration on strengthening youth-led accountability in SADC parliaments for delivering on commitments on SRHR, HIV and gender equality”, which was later adopted by the SADC PF’s Plenary Assembly in Namibia in December 2019. The adoption is groundbreaking in that it promotes youth-led accountability with SADC.

By adopting the resolution, the assembly resolved to undertake several actions required to improve young people’s right to health and empowerment using their legislative, oversight and representation mandate. This includes the amendment of laws and policies that limit young people’s freedom of expression, choice and access to integrated HIV and SRHR services, comprehensive sexuality education social protection and harm reduction services for young key populations. – (original story via UNAIDS http://rstesa.unaids.org/

A meeting for parliamentarians to deliberate on how to end teenage pregnancy in Kenya was convened on 27th February 2020 at Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi by National Council of Population and Development with support from UNESCO, UNFPA and SRHRA.

The meeting attended by seven members of parliament and several parliamentary clerks, government representatives, UNESCO, UNFPA, civil society and the media aimed securing political leadership in response to teenage pregnancy, which is still a major issue in the country. During the meeting, presentations were made on the status of teenage pregnancy in the country. Highlights were also given on UNESCO’s technical support towards ending teenage pregnancy in the country and the region. In his remarks on behalf of the UN agencies, the UNFPA Deputy Representative Dr. Eziz Hellenov affirmed the agencies commitments towards gender equality through ending teenage pregnancy.

The parliamentarians through the plenary session called for practical interventions that addresses the root causes of teenage pregnancy. ‘’ we need to explore how rape cases are contributing to teenage pregnancy, we should not turn our eyes blind as young girls continue to be violated by people meant to protect them’ asserted Senator Ledama of Narok County. Members of parliament also called upon parents to take up responsibilities of nurturing children. Prof Kamar, Senator Uasin Gishu County noted that there is need to provide psycho-social support for teen mothers for them to cope with their situation. She noted that this has informed the 2019 draft care and protective bill  in parliament and the draft reproductive health bill. The members of parliament also called for concerted efforts by Ministries of Health and Education since there are no shortages of policies in Kenya, what lacks is the implementation

NEW YORK, 25 Nov 2019 – 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an annual global campaign designed to mobilise action to end gender-based violence (GBV) in all its forms. The campaign runs from 25 November to 10 December. School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) is defined as ‘acts or threats of sexual, physical, or psychological violence occurring in and around schools, perpetrated as a result of gender norms and stereotypes and enforced by unequal power dynamics.’

Millions of children are affected by violence in and around schools every year. Girls are particularly vulnerable. SRGBV negatively impacts the ability of children to get to and from school, attendance rates, learning outcomes and can lead to higher rates of school drop-out. Identifying, responding to, and preventing SRGBV is therefore critical to advancing gender equality in education as well as the Sustainable Development Goal 4 target of ‘safe, inclusive and gender-sensitive learning environments.’ 

Developed by UNGEI through the Global Working Group to End SRGBV, our publication A Whole School Approach to prevent and respond to SRGBV: minimum standards and monitoring framework provides guidance for policy makers and practitioners in developing strategies to address school violence. The model is based on eight evidence-based standards drawn from approaches identified as promising practices for SRGBV prevention and response. Taken together, the following key elements represent a ‘whole school approach’ (WSA) to tackling SRGBV:

  1. Effective school leadership and community engagement to create safe, gender-sensitive learning environments
  2. Establishing and implementing a code of conduct
  3. Capacity building of teachers and educational staff support
  4. Empowering children on child rights, participation and gender equality
  5. Improving reporting, monitoring and accountability
  6. Incident response
  7. Strengthening safe and secure physical environments in and around schools
  8. Engaging parents

Over the course of this 16-day campaign UNGEI and partners will unpack each of these eight key elements through a digital advocacy campaign. Inspired by dialogue across digital channels and discussion fora, both in person and online, a global writeshop will be convened on Human Rights Day (10 Dec) leading to the creation of an open letter. Produced collaboratively, the letter will appeal to the countries of the world to take a number of key actions in order to make schools safe and gender-sensitive learning environments. Find out how you can take part here. 

The fight to end SRGBV must continue beyond these 16 Days. Therefore, marking a new phase of the campaign to #EndSRGBV, on 10 December UNGEI and partners will also release a series of six advocacy briefs featuring case studies on promising practice for tackling SRGBV. Each brief brings together the latest learning and evidence on how to prevent and respond to SRGBV, providing a framework for further advocacy, activism, and action against violence in schools.

Join us in learning how we can work together to address this global crisis, calling on global leaders to take action against School-Related Gender-Based Violence during this 16 Days of Activism and beyond. 

Follow UNGEI on Facebook and Twitter and join the conversation via #EndSRGBV 


by Oratilwe Moerane

I am 19 years of age, a mother to a 2 year old little cute man. “Being a teen mum means we met a little early but it also means that I get to love you a little longer.”
Broken dreams due to teenage pregnancy: I always saw myself in what I  call my 5 miraculous dresses
1. Matriculation dress
2 and 3. Graduation dresses
4. Wedding dress
5. Maternity dress
Sadly because back in those years I never taught myself not to take anything my peers say personal. I found myself taking a different route from the one planned watching my dreams shatter. At that very moment it had to take God to turn my life upside down so I could learn how to live right side up without searching for any validation. When I found out I was pregnant, I had to deal society confronting me with painful stigma and mistrust. At that age of 17 I had to realise that motherhood is a choice made daily, having to put someone else’s happiness and well being before yours, to teach hard lessons, to do right even when you are actually not sure what right is, having to forgive myself over and over again thinking I’m doing everything wrong. These were lessons that I should have learnt at the right age and time.
Having to drop out of school i had to hustle hard so that I can provide where I can for my son.The hunger of a productive launch is pretty addictive. Not only was I grateful to share my story to over 600 pupils including the honourable Minster Angela Motshekga, UNESCO, partners and MBTEENLIFESTLYE , I had to hear and learn the different perspectives on how teenage pregnancies affect our parents, families and communities.


Having been provided with more information to make more informed decisions, I hope that now society will learn to stop shaming our teenagers who are pregnant, those who feel they want to start using contraceptive or know their statues. Rather than confronting them, help them understand their decisions and make them fully aware of the choices they are about to take. The Let’s Talk campaign will allow teenagers to use the materials on the website not only to inform themselves but inform others of the necessity of taking care of ones health and understanding that pregnancy at the right time will ensure a healthy mother and happy baby. We must be gentle and supportive so that we don’t have girls replacing their fathers with their boyfriends, because i believe the moment we step into the teenage life we need a consistent shoulder to cry on a person who listens to understand and not just to respond.

Harare, Zimbabwe – 24 October 2019: Over 2,000 students, teachers and civil society representatives  convened at the Makomo Primary School in the outskirts of Harare for the national launch of the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign on early and unintended pregnancy (EUP).

In attendance at the festive event were high level dignitaries and government officials including Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, First Lady of Zimbabwe; Prof. Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO’s Regional Director for Southern Africa; Angelica Broman, First Secretary at the Swedish Embassy in Harare; the Ministers of Education, Health, and Provincial Affairs; and heads of UN agencies and NGOs.

As part of the ESA Ministerial commitment endorsed in December 2013, the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign aims to empower young people, especially girls, with the knowledge, information and support to prevent EUP.

Today we are launching the Lets Talk! Campaign on early and unintended pregnancy I want to recognise the young people, the learners present here in such large numbers this

[campaign]

is about you, this is about your future, your rights, and your lives said Prof. Gijzen.

The key message “let’s talk about pregnancy at the right time” was echoed through narratives of shared responsibility of families, communities, and institutions to address the root causes of EUP.

The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Prof. Paul Mavhima said that the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign is coming just at the right time when his ministry is implementing multiple interventions that respond directly to the plight of the girl child, most notably, the prioritisation of the Education Amendment Bill. He highlighted that among the Bill’s key provisions are efforts to outlaw all forms of discrimination in schools including on the basis of pregnancy. To this end, the Bill provides for all learners to have access to quality education after experiencing pregnancy.

For too long, when an adolescent becomes pregnant, we have pointed the finger at her. It is time that we pointed the finger at ourselves. If a girl gets pregnant that is because we have not provided her with the information, education, training and support she needs to prevent herself becoming pregnant, said Dr. Obadiah Moyo, Minister of Health and Child Care.

Adolescent pregnancy remains a major challenge and contributor to maternal and child mortality, fuelled by grinding poverty across rural and urban communities in Zimbabwe. Perinatal deaths are 50% higher among babies born to mothers under the age of 20 years and adolescent mothers are more likely to have underweight babies at risk of infections and death during the early stages of infancy.

The First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa concluded the launch event by saying the Lets Talk campaign [is] an opportunity to amplify our actions  strategic partners [are] supporting the Governments efforts to ensure that the campaign reaches all parts of the country. Let us all amplify our voices against EUP in churches, schools, health centres, community meetings, workplaces and social spaces. Lets Talk! Pregnancy at the Right Time.  Lets Talk Health, Education and Rights for Pregnant Girls.

To learn more about the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign, please visit youngpeopletoday.org or follow us on twitter @ LetsTalkEUP

UNESCO officially launched the Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future (O3) Programme in Malawi in partnership with the Ministry of Science, Education and Technology and the Norwegian Embassy in Lilongwe on 10 October 2019. The launch culminated in the agreement signing ceremony between UNESCO and the Government of Norway to accelerate the O3 programme.

The O3 launch was attended by UNESCO’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. William Susuwele Banda, the, the Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Steinar Egil Hagen, and the UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres Macho. Representatives from civil society organisations and the media were present along with students, teachers and parents at the Mphungu Primary School in Lilongwe.

Since the commencement of the O3 programme in Malawi, the government has been an instrumental partner in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights to its population. Despite these notable measures, over 70% of new HIV infections are among young women (15-19 years). Pregnancy and childbirth complications continue to be the leading cause of death among young women in Malawi.

The Norwegian Ambassador, Steinar Egil Hagen stated we are today at the starting point of an important partnership, with our friends in the Malawi government, and with the UN-family and working on an important topic, comprehensive sexuality education”…”together, we can make a difference for children in Malawi.

The funding provided by the Norwegian government will allow Malawi to deepen the scope of existing activities to attain full-scale implementation of Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) supported by inter-sectoral partners and UNESCO Malawi.

As we sign the Agreement for this project, we are making a public declaration that now more than ever, we need to transform the lives of children and young people. We are saying we want to work together in eradicating these challenges. Eradicating gender-based violence, early and unintended pregnancy, reduce new HIV infections, and increase young peoples knowledge said Prof. Gijzen, UNESCO’s Regional Director.

UNESCO has been working across the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes for adolescents and young people through scaling up CSE. The provision and access to CSE resources are expected to promote and sustain risk-reducing behaviour among young people.

Held annually on 5 October since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions. This years theme is “Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession.” We recognise the critical  importance  of  reaffirming  the  value  of  the  teaching  mission.  UNESCO works with teachers in many different capacities. We have compiled some teacher profiles to highlight some amazing individuals doing great work in their communities and embody this years theme.

Mr. Challi Bejiga Mekaneyesus Primary school Addis Ababa

Mr. Challi Bejiga is a trained  school director. He is leading  the Mekaneyesus Primary school in Addis Ababa since 2016. In addition, he is a Chemistry teacher at grades 7 and 8.   He dedicates his time in helping students learn the sciences  for better lives.  He strongly believes that the young is the future of the nation . Mr. Challi has  the vision to make the school one of the five best schools in Addis Ababa.

Nqobile Ngwenya is a vibrant 35 year 0ld, young teacher who teaches Life Skills Education at Nhlangano Central High School. She also teaches English and Siswati. She has benefitted from the UNESCO Connect With Respect (CWR)  capacity building workshop which was held on the 30th September-3rd October, 2019, at Eswatini.

Nqobile Ngwenya teacher at Nhlangano Central High School

She presented one of the CWR activities at the workshop with so much vigor and exhibiting such a passion for the profession. Whe presenting she had the audience at her finger tips. She was able to fully engage the teachers  through song, play and fun. When interviewed about her strategy she said ‘learning through play’ was her teaching approach. She emphasized that she uses this strategy when teaching her learners at her school and she has since realized that learners enjoy learning in this way and it makes them cooperate. She also expressed how she does not experience behavior problems in her classes. This mentioned that this is despite the fact that one of the classes she teaches in the school is labelled as a ‘naughty’ class. She also revealed that she has a very close relationship with her learners and they view her as their second mother. She was of the impression that through this capacity building exercise she has been equipped with more skills and believes they will enable her to change the learners overall behavior even beyond her classes.

Priscilla Chete lives in Ndilande, Blantyre

Priscilla Chete is a 35 years old teacher at Njamba Community Day Secondary School in Blantyre. She has been in the teaching profession for 10 years. Priscilla is a holder of a Master of Arts degree in Development Studies which she obtained in Chancellor College in 2018. She also holds a bachelor of Arts in Education from Mzuzu University with English as her Major subject.

Priscilla who is also a senior teacher, holds different portfolios such as examination officer, sports coordinator as well as stores clerk. As a teacher, Priscilla belongs to Teachers Union of Malawi where she also serves as a youth national Chairperson. By virtue of being a teacher, she also chairs the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions youth Department.

Priscilla finds fulfilment of her work when she sees the students who have gone through her teaching progressing in life, specifically if they are selected to continue with their education in Universities and colleges. Some of the students that Priscilla has groomed have made it to universities like College of Medicine, Chancellor College and Mzuzu universities. Some are progressing up to Masters level.


Miss Hazvineyi Koroka
Nettleton Junior School, Harare

Ms. Koroka is in her early 30’s.She trained as a primary school teacher, having completed a diploma in teaching at Morgen Zintec Teachers’ College in 2002. She started teaching Grade 1 students at Mbare Primary School in Harare soon after finishing college. Currently she is a Grade 1 teacher at Nettleton Junior School. She loves teaching and she believes it is her vocation. In fact, she was attracted to the teaching profession because back in her high school days, when teaching was still a noble profession and many young people aspired to be like their teachers who well respected in the community.

To attract, recruit and keep young people in the teaching profession, there is need for Government to restore the lost status of teaching as a noble profession by addressing remuneration and conditions of living for teachers. Currently, it is lowly paid and teachers are struggling to make ends meet (As a young profession, I feel shortchanged by the system in that I cannot afford to meet Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from the below poverty datum line salary I am earning. What more of self-actualizing?) To cap it all, society generally looks down upon teachers to the extent that even our learners do not aspire to be teachers when they grow up when we do career guidance sessions!

UNESCO in partnership with UNFPA, SAfAIDS, and Save the Children Sweden launched the Let’s Talk! campaign on the 31st of July 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.Let’s Talk! is a social and behaviour change campaign to reduce early and unintended pregnancies (EUP) across 21 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region, which has one of the highest adolescent fertility rates in the world. The campaign will be implemented until December 2020, and envisions an Eastern and Southern Africa region where all adolescents are empowered and have the knowledge, information, agency and support to prevent early and unintended pregnancy and reach their full potential

The campaign launch was attended by at least 150 participants from 13 countries across ESA region, which included the SADC PF Secretary General, South Africa Minister of Basic Education, Lesotho Minister of Education and Training, Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, and other government officials from Ministry of Education and Health; #LetsTalkEUP Ambassador DJ Zinhle, Sida, Packard Foundation, UNESCO, UNFPA, SAfAIDS, Save the Children, and PCI Media representatives. Media practitioners from print and electronic media houses across the 13 countries also attended the launch.

The #LetsTalkEUP Ambassador, renowned DJ Zinhle, graced the stage at the launch and performed a song which she has produced exclusively for the campaign. The song features the campaign pillars of health, education and rights, within the context of EUP.  It will aim to engage and excite young people across the region, building upon DJ Zinhle’s immense popularity and appeal. 

The launch event overall introduced the campaign to the high-level stakeholders and raised awareness on the magnitude of EUP, as well as the need to implement preventative actions to address its devastating social and economic impacts, especially for the lives of adolescent girls and young women, but also men and boys and societies as a whole.

Speaking at the launch, UNESCO Regional Director, Professor Hubert Gijzen applauded governments for their dedication and commitment towards prioritising the lives of future generations. He called upon governments and other stakeholders to coordinate efforts in addressing Early and Unintended Pregnancy, as this is an issue that is compounded and affected by multiple factors including, policies, cultural practices, and the health and education systems.

The South Africa Minister of Basic Education, Honourable Angelina Motshekga emphasised that EUP has adverse impact on educational opportunities, achievements and future of adolescents, especially the girl child. She reiterated the need for coordinated efforts to accelerate progress in the prevention and management of EUP in the country as well as regionally. The “Let’s Talk!” campaign will continue to be rolled out at the country level in the coming weeks, including country-specific launch events across the ESA region

On 17 July 2019 WFP, UNAIDS and UNESCO joined forces to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela through a charitable act of kindness. As a way to commemorate Mandela Day 2019 collaboratively the agencies were able to collect a wide range of items for donation to the Frida Hartley Shelter ranging from clothing and toys. Mandela Day calls on us all, every day, to make the world a better place. This year’s theme for the International Mandela Day is #ActionAgainstPoverty.

Agency representatives from WFP, UNAIDS and UNESCO visited the Frida Hartley Shelter prior to the day of commemoration and met with Cheryl Hlabane, the centre Operations Manager who is doing a great job and needs support in many areas in addition to the pressing needs for the shelter such as food, toiletries and clothing.

The Frida Hartley Shelter aims to empower, educate and enhance the  intellectual capacity for homeless, displaced and/or abused women (and their  children) to improve their confidence so they can find employment,  start their own businesses and regain their dignity in society.

The shelter provides a home environment where women work together on domestic chores, cleaning, and cooking while receiving training and support to seek employment and independence. On average, women and their children stay at the shelter for 3 – 6 months, with many offering part-time volunteer support, and counselling once they have left the shelter. Over seven hundred women and children have been helped at the shelter. For more information on the shelter and how to assist click here.

Global Learning Symposium on ending school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) will be held from 26 to 28 March 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The event is timely in the context of a renewed global conversation around continued gender inequality, triggered in 2018 by the #MeToo movement and an increased commitment around the world to make schools safer places.

The Global Learning Symposium is a biennial event held by the Global Working Group to End School-Related Gender-Based Violence, co-hosted by UNESCO and UNGEI. The learning symposium aims to help partners, including representatives from Ministries of Education, civil society, UN agencies, education unions and research, develop a collective understanding of SRGBV and find solutions to address it.

School-related gender-based violence can be defined as acts or threats of sexual, physical or psychological violence occurring in and around schools, perpetrated because of gender norms and stereotypes, and enforced by unequal power dynamics.

Read more of the article here.