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The UNESCO/Swedish funded project, “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future” was officially launched in Paris, France on 3rd November 2017 at an event that also commemorated UNESCO and Sweden’s partnership in supporting positive health, gender and education outcomes for adolescents and young people in sub-Saharan Africa.

The launch, which took place during the 39th session of UNESCO’s General Conference featured interventions by UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, the Minister for Education of Sweden, Gustav Fridolin, and Zambia’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Humphrey Chilu Chibanda, representing General Education Minister for Zambia, Dennis Wanchinga.

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, said the partnership between UNESCO and Sweden was empowering the youth of Africa to make informed and healthy decisions about their future.

“The link between education and health is absolutely unequivocal. Healthy learners are better learners. Better educated learners have the knowledge and skills to stay healthy,” said the Director-General.

Adolescents and young people in sub-Saharan Africa face many sexual and reproductive health challenges, including early and unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, gender-based violence and child marriage. In the region, AIDS is the leading cause of death in young people aged 10-19 years, with adolescent girls and young women at disproportionate risk, acquiring HIV five to seven years earlier than men.

“Addressing the health challenges that undermine the well-being of sub-Saharan Africa’s young population is a top priority of Sweden’s development and foreign policy,” said the Minister for Education of Sweden, Gustav Fridolin.

“All adolescents and young people deserve the opportunity to develop the skills and competencies they need to reduce early and unintended pregnancies, eliminate gender-based violence and prevent HIV,” added the Minister.

Zambia’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Humphrey Chilu Chibanda, said he was pleased to join other African governments who will benefit from Sweden’s support to implement “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future”.

“The programme will support and accelerate our efforts and commitment to ensure that comprehensive sexuality education empowers adolescents and young people, while developing the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and competencies needed to sustain positive education, health and gender equality outcomes. We fully stand behind young people’s rights, lives and future,” he said.

Through “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future”, UNESCO and Sweden will support UNESCO Member States to provide adolescents and young people with comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) that promotes gender equality and human rights and addresses gender norms and stereotypes. The growing body of evidence confirms that well-implemented sexuality education programmes result in young people delaying age of first sex, reduced frequency of sex, reduced number of sex partners, and increased rates of condom use.

The programme directly contributes to the education, health and gender Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It expands on existing work in Eastern & Southern Africa through the ESA Commitment, with new projects in West and Central Africa. It focuses on Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC and Nigeria, with the benefits set to extend to Benin, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Lesotho, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.

Sweden has committed 79.7 million SEK (approximately 10 million USD) over the next three years to the “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future” project, bringing their total support for CSE to 220 million SEK (approximately 30 million USD) over an 8-year period.

[:en]Every girl has the right to complete a quality education – however, the realities are that many do not make it through to their graduation. Teenage pregnancy is a significant cause to increased school dropout, with persistently high rates across Eastern and Southern Africa exceeding two times the global average.

A consultation held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 4-5 November 2014, discusses the key role education plays in eliminating high numbers of unintended teenage pregnancy. The event brings together representatives from Ministries of Education, Ministries of Health, UN and bilateral partners, civil society organizations and research partners from across Eastern and Southern Africa.

In addition to the increased health risks, young girls who become pregnant face difficult choices with life-long consequences. It could mean expulsion from home and school; being shamed and stigmatized by family, community members and peers; increased vulnerability to violence and abuse, or greater poverty and economic hardship.

In order to combat early and unintended pregnancy, strengthening the education sector – at all levels – is crucial. Not only does education help in preventing early and unintended pregnancy but also to ensure all women and girls receive full access to the education they deserve.

Jointly organized by UNESCO, UNFPA, Ford Foundation and Population Council (Kenya), one of the major outcomes of the consultation has been the development of a regional report on the education sector’s response for eliminating early and unintended pregnancy across Eastern and Southern Africa.[:pt]Todas as raparigas têm o direito de completar uma educação de qualidade – porém, a realidade é que muitas não chegam a se formar. A gravidez de adolescentes é uma causa significativa do aumento do abandono escolar, com taxas altas persistentes em toda África Oriental e Austral excedendo duas vezes a media global.

Uma consulta realizada em Joanesburgo, África do Sul de 4-5 de novembro de 2014, discute o papel importante que a educação desempenha em eliminar os altos números de gravidezes não intencionadas de adolescentes. O evento junta representantes dos Ministérios da Educação e da Saúde, da UN e dos parceiros bilaterais, das organizações de sociedades civis e parceiros de pesquisa de toda a África Oriental e Austral.

Para além do aumento dos riscos de saúde, raparigas jovens que ficam grávidas enfrentam escolhas difíceis com consequências para o resto da vida. Pode significar serem expulsas de casa e da escola; serem envergonhadas e estigmatizadas pela família, membros da comunidade e colegas; aumento da vulnerabilidade à violência e ao abuso, ou pobreza maior e dificuldades económicas.

Para combater a gravidez precoce e não intencionada, reforçar o setor da educação – a todos os níveis – é fundamental. A educação não só ajuda a prevenir a gravidez precoce e não intencionada mas também ajuda a assegurar que todas as mulheres e raparigas recebam acesso completo à educação que merecem.

Conjuntamente organizada pela UNESCO, UNFPA, Ford Foundation e Population Council (Quénia), um dos maiores resultados da consulta foi o desenvolvimento de um relatório regional sobre as repostas do setor da educação para eliminar a gravidez não intencionada por toda a África Oriental e Austral.[:fr]Chaque fille a le droit de compléter une éducation de qualité. Cependant, la réalité est que beaucoup n’arrivent pas jusqu’à la fin de leur études. La grossesse des adolescentes est une cause importante de l’augmentation de l’abandon scolaire, avec la persistance de taux élevés dans toute l’Afrique Orientale et Australe, dépassant deux fois la moyenne mondiale.

Une consultation a eu lieu à Johannesburg, en Afrique du Sud les 4 et 5 Novembre 2014, afin d’examiner le rôle clé que joue l’éducation dans l’élimination du nombre élevé de grossesses non-désirées chez les adolescentes. L’événement a réuni des représentants des ministères de l’Éducation, des ministères de la Santé, de l’ONU et des partenaires bilatéraux, des organisations de la société civile et des partenaires de recherche de toute l’Afrique Orientale et Australe.

En plus des risques accrus pour la santé, les jeunes filles qui deviennent enceintes doivent faire des choix difficiles qui entraînent des conséquences tout au long de leur vie. Cela peut entrainer l’expulsion de leur maison et l’école; l’humiliation et la stigmatisation par la famille, les membres de la communauté et les pairs; l’augmentation de la vulnérabilité à la violence et aux abus, ou une plus grande pauvreté et des difficultés économiques.

Afin de lutter contre les grossesses précoces et non désirées, le renforcement du secteur de l’éducation – à tous les niveaux – est crucial. Non seulement l’éducation aide dans la prévention des grossesses précoces et non-désirées, mais aussi elle assure que toutes les femmes et les filles bénéficient d’un accès à l’éducation complète qu’elles méritent.

Organisée conjointement par l’UNESCO, le FNUAP, la Fondation Ford et le Conseil de la Population (Kenya),  la Consultation a eu, comme un des principaux résultats, l’élaboration d’un rapport régional sur la réponse du secteur de l’éducation pour l’élimination précoce des grossesses non désirées à travers l’Afrique orientale et australe.[:]

We know education is critical to the prevention of HIV and AIDS across Eastern and Southern Africa – but how do we measure its impact?

Last week, August 4-5, 2014, UNESCO and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat hosted a regional workshop in Botswana to provide Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) staff with technical support to collect data on education’s response to HIV and AIDS. Representatives from nine countries attended the training, including Angola, Botswana, DRC, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

UNESCO, working with a number of governments and agencies along with the UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) developed global indicators in February 2013 to integrate within the Education Management Information Systems. This workshop was now the training to help countries integrate these indicators.

These indicators, being incorporated into national surveys and census frameworks, are the first of its kind. It will be the first time monitoring and evaluation results like this at the regional level will be gathered and collected for the annual HIV Report developed by SADC.

“This process will not only increase the capacity of data collection and indicators that are currently available but more so, to build appreciation and awareness of the Education sector’s contribution in response to comprehensive sexuality education and HIV,” said Dr. Patricia Machawira, Regional Health Education and HIV Advisor with UNESCO in her opening remarks during the workshop.

“This work is crucial to measuring the Education sector’s response to the HIV epidemic in this region,” said Ms. Lomthandazo Mayimbela, SADC Senior Education Officer in her welcoming speech. “Through such training, we can help deliberate and guide HIV indicators to enable governments to make informed decisions.”

At the end of the two-day workshop, Countries agreed that this training would need to cascade across the region and down to the provincial, district and school levels.

On behalf of the delegates from the 9 member states who participated in the workshop, Ms Dlamini, Director of Education Testing Guidance and Psychosocial Services Department in Swaziland expressed her gratitude. “This information and training has come at an opportune time. It will enable us to track and share the education sector’s contribution to the ESA Commitment Targets.”