Empowering Girls: Liberia Hosts West Africa Adolescent Girls Summit

Liberia Hosts West Africa Adolescent Girls Summit
In Liberia, Girls and Women Face a Future Without U.N. Peacekeepers – Women's

Empowering Girls: Liberia Hosts West Africa Adolescent Girls Summit

The West Africa Adolescent Girls Summit (AGS) stands as a groundbreaking event championing the rights and empowerment of adolescent girls. Scheduled for March 26–29, 2024, in Monrovia, this summit builds upon the success of its inaugural pilot event held in 2022. With technical support from the Global Fund for Children and its local partners in West Africa, adolescent girls and boys aged 13–19 are leading the planning process. This approach ensures that the voices of adolescents, often marginalized in decision-making spaces, are amplified.

In West and Central Africa, adolescents represent a significant demographic, comprising about a quarter of the population, with their numbers expected to grow. Adolescent girls, in particular, face unique challenges such as child marriage, early pregnancy, and harmful traditional practices. Recognizing this, the World Bank emphasizes the importance of investing in their wellbeing, education, and empowerment for sustainable development in Africa.

Ame Atsu David, Regional Co-Director for Africa at the Global Fund for Children, highlights the misconception of adolescents as inexperienced or incapable contributors. He asserts that amplifying adolescent girls’ voices is not only just but also strategically vital for Africa’s future.

The AGS aims to break barriers by providing a platform for adolescent girls, especially those from marginalized communities, to connect, share experiences, and advocate for their rights. Boys are also included as allies in challenging gender stereotypes and promoting positive norms around masculinity.

Khalida Tamu, a participant in the 2022 AGS, expressed her joy at being part of a platform where adolescents led discussions and decision-making processes. The summit will convene 200 adolescent girls and boys, along with government officials and stakeholders from several West African countries. Key topics include adolescent mental health, climate change, sexual and reproductive health, child marriage, human rights, diversity, education, peer pressure management, and drug abuse prevention.

One unique aspect of the summit is its focus on providing a direct platform for adolescent girls to engage with high-level stakeholders, challenging historical silencing and fostering empowerment. The event will culminate in a panel discussion featuring influential dignitaries, including the First Lady of Liberia, and a call to action will be presented to stakeholders.

The AGS signifies more than just an event; it is a movement mobilizing adolescents to drive transformative change at various levels. It aligns with the collaborative efforts of local Global Fund for Children partners, creating an ecosystem empowering adolescents to be influential change agents.

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