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AU launches regional girls, women empowerment initiative

The African Union (AU) has launched the Education Plus Initiative (EPI), which is a high-level political advocacy initiative of the adolescent girls and young women and the achievement of gender equality in Sub-Saharan Africa.
AU chairperson Mackay Sall Launched the EPI before the close of the Fourth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting in Lusaka on Sunday and President Hakainde Hichilema was among the head of state and Government that witnessed the launch.
President Hichilema said he was excited about initiative as it would keep adolescent girls in school.
“The excitement also comes from the fact that we believe in universal access to quality education, as demonstrated by our decision to introduce free education and hiring 30, 000 teachers,” President Hichilema said through a posting on his Facebook page.
He said the Government was committed to the EPI and wished the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS the best as it spearhead such a drive to protect and preserve the lives of young women by enhancing education standards and preventing new HIV infections in adolescent women.
According to the UN, the EPI called for bold leadership by governments and decision makers to rapidly scale up multi-sectoral policies, actions, and smart investments.
Information from the UN availed to the Times of Zambia stated that the initiative was a response to the urgency of effectively preventing HIV among adolescent girls and young women in the region.
That was among other avoidable threats to their survival, safty, well-being and agency that were filed by gender inequalities and unequal power dynamics.
The UN further stated that EPI called on high-level political leadership to roll out free quality secondary education for all girls and boys by 2025, through progressive increases in domestic budgets; and leverages secondary education systems.
The initiative sought to ensure that every adolescent girl and young women completed quality secondary education, had universal access to comprehensive sexuality education, fulfillment of sexual and reproductive health and rights and freedom from gender-based and sexual violence.
The EPI package also sought to achieve successful school-to-work transitions and young women’s economic security and empowerment.
The UN stated further that the initiative would foster enabling policy and legal environments that protect the rights of adolescent girls and young women, profile and support the leadership and meaningful participation of adolescent girls and young women in all their diversity.
The EPI would also ensure increased investments in gender-responsive and transformative approaches to tackle harmful gender norms.

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