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Adolescent African girl child still oppressed

12 October 2013, 11:13 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi - Plan International, a child rights organization, released a report on adolescent African girl-child dubbed, "Because I am a Girl_Girls and Disasters 2013" revealing that girls in the continent bear the brunt of deprivation and disruption occasioned by either man made or natural disasters.

Speaking during the launch, Gezahegan Kebede, Regional Director Plan International in Eastern and Southern Africa, said that drought, conflict, food crises and natural disasters have devastating effects on adolescent girls as some are forced into early marriages or sexual exploitation.

"When crises strike, adolescent girls are forced to shoulder much of the burden of family survival. As a result, they become victims of misguided and harmful coping strategies," stated Kebede.

Kebede cited that from the Survey, African adolescent girls are routinely disadvantaged in terms of nutrition, domestic workloads and education. In addition they are made to labour and their sexuality exploited as commodities in the general struggle for survival in an unprotected and risky living conditions.

He stated that girls have fewer opportunities to participate, make their voices heard, develop their talents and contribute to their societies, except in the most menial ways.

Kabede added that African governments and development organizations need to ensure that harmful coping strategies such as dropping out of school, early marriage and migration from home are replaced by access to education at all levels.

"We must start to see emergencies and disasters in terms of the underlying conditions of poverty and gender inequality which invariably exacerbate the impact of disasters on the most vulnerable, especially adolescent girls," cautioned Kabede.

"In Plan, we are playing our part through our 'Because I am a Girl' campaign which is aimed at helping girls break the inter-generational cycle of poverty. One key focus for the campaign is education. We are advocating for universal access for girls to receive at least nine years of quality education," he added.

The Survey was released in marking the second anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child.


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