First Lady, Mrs. Mahama charges African First ladies to fight for girls, women’s rights

Ghana’s First Lady, Mrs. Lordina Mahama has charged her fellow African First Ladies to champion the rights of the adolescent girls in order to protect them against societal norms and violence.

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“Until each citizen, appreciates the importance of protecting adolescent girls, ending gender norms, and violence against girls. We must continue to advocate, until our technocrats, argue their way out of the “whys and how’s” of collecting, analyzing and disaggregating data on adolescents, for decision making”, she stated at a side event organized on the heels of the High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Under the theme, “Breaking the Silos: Empowered Adolescent Girls, at the Centre of the Response”, the event that was organized by the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), an organization advocates for effective strategies, towards the elimination of HIV and AIDS.

Attended by a large number of Africa First Ladies, other key stakeholders, and partners, including the UNAIDS, UNFPA, IPPF, GAVI, and the Gates Foundation.

Mrs. Mahama described the theme for the event which highlights the urgency, of mainstreaming the empowerment of adolescent girls, across the spectrum of the HIV response as appropriate and timely, saying that the Sustainable Development Goals, have provided a clear framework, for focusing on adolescent girls across sectors.

She made a case that empowering girls, to prevent HIV among adolescents, is a key requirement, to achieving an AIDS-free generation, and attaining epidemic control.

More especially, scaling up, and integrating HIV with sexual and reproductive health services, such as various education and information platforms, condom programming and access to contraceptive services.

She recalled a campaign launched in Accra, Ghana in February this year, by OAFLA for intensified efforts, to prevent HIV infections, and AIDS-related deaths amongst adolescents, vibrant and focused leadership of adolescents saying that “OAFLA believes strongly, that as we move towards the attainment, of the short term 90-90-90 HIV targets, and the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we must all ensure, that no young girl or boy is left behind”.

Despite Africa’s adolescents being seriously affected by the HIV epidemic; with the adolescent girls and young women, being very vulnerable to infection and AIDS related deaths, Ghana’s First Lady lamented that their predicament is not fully understood, due to lack of empowerment, compounded by other structural, social and biological factors.

There were other contributions from the First Ladies of Namibia, Madam Monica Geingos, Madam Dominique Ouattara, of Cote D’ivoire, Madam Antoinette Sassou-Nguesso of Congo, Madam Adjoavi Sika Kabore of Burkina Faso, Madam Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger, Dr. Ginette Michaud Privert of Haiti, and Madam Lorena Castillo de Varela of Panama.

Apart from contributions other experts, there was a video, panel discussions on leveraging the end of AIDS for social transformation and sustainable development, financing and sustaining the end of AIDS and stopping new HIV infections.

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