The quality of life of African girls and women continues to decline exponentially at every turn, their security, dignity and wellbeing is compromised leading to the worst kind of gender based violence, rape, murder and a gross violation of human rights.
‘The State of African Women Report’, a tool documented to give perspective on the three -year advocacy communication and awareness raising campaign focusing on increasing civil society’s contributions to promote the implementation of the African Union policy framework has cited that; “Africa knows the highest rates of child marriages in the world: 4 in 10 women and girls in Sub Saharan Africa are married before the age of 18”.
As a means of trying to rectifying these deplorable conditions organizations across the continent continue to develop programs that advocate for various policies tailored to better the lives of the marginalized, abused, vulnerable and discriminated.
RightByHer Malawi Campaign launch
This week all roads led to Lilongwe, Malawi for the official launch of the #RightByHer campaign, the brainchild of the International Planned Parenthood Federation which seeks to combat the rife struggles faced by girls and women. #RightByHer is a group effort of 8 organisations established to realise and extend women’s and girl’s rights across Africa.
Upon realizing the gap between rights and reality #RightByHer, took the initiative to work at reducing this gap through researching, capacity building and awareness campaigns. This coalition is comprised of youth serving organisations, feminist groups, SRHR professionals, and Faith Based Organisations. They each contribute their expertise working with youth activists, journalists, women’s rights activists, first ladies, parliamentarians and policy makers.
When speaking during the launch, the Deputy Speaker, Aisha Adams emphasized the importance of the inclusion of the youth in this campaign in order to attain Africa’s Agenda 2063.
Adams further stated that,
“Policies and laws exist but their implementation is hindered by social norms and regressive practices including child marriages and female genital mutilation.”
She also pointed out the eminent need for stakeholders to amplify their voices at the grass roots with the relevant peers and decision makers in governmental departments, inter-governmental spaces to ensure that the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) agenda and issues are effectively and efficiently positioned.
There was a unanimous decision among all the participants that patriarchy and socialization plays a significant role in perpetuating the deterioration of state that girls and women find themselves in.
Also at the launch was the President of Youth Action Movement Malawi (YAM), Erasmo Mbemba who was of the notion that, “The evidence is clear that once a female decides about her body the world would be a better, stronger and safer place to be.” Mbemba also stated that it is imperative that the youth be considered an integral part of all the processes in ending violence and abuse.
Director of programs at the Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM), Tazirwa Chipeta, expressed her excitement, to have hosted the campaign launch of the #Rightbyher.
“This campaign comes at a time when government together with its strategic partners are reflecting on the gains made on the different international commitments including the ICPD.” Tazirwa intoned.
“In addition, FPAM and its partners are working together to assist the government of Malawi in implementing good SRHR policies including the access to safe abortion laws. As a right based organization we commit to stand RIGHTBY HER and even Right at her back” she concluded.
Humans are sexual beings with different tastes, preferences, cultures, norms and practices all intertwined by sexuality rendering Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights the cornerstone of humanity which must be guarded and guided with utmost care and sensitivity considering its complexities.