Webinar – voices of adolescent girls in the Sahel: building a better future

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The Irish Embassy in France will host an education-focused webinar featuring Former President Mary Robinson & girls from the Sahel

Adolescent girls’ education is a catalyst that can help meet global commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment, peace and security building, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Yet – more than 130 million girls worldwide are out of school, 96.5 million of whom are excluded from secondary education. The education of girls has long been a priority for Ireland’s development programs, but the focus on girls’ education has increased since Ireland joined the UN Security Council. The devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have also made Ireland’s commitment to girls’ education more important and more urgent than ever. 

The Sahel and French-speaking West Africa is also a priority region for Ireland. As part of this strategy, Ireland has also committed to deepen its engagement with Francophone partners and multilateral institutions to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development. 

The challenges that adolescent girls face in accessing education are multiple and complex.

The pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities girls face. An additional 20 million girls may never return to a classroom following the pandemic. However-while COVID-19 presents an unprecedented set of challenges, it can also be a catalyst to advance change towards a better world in the aftermath of the pandemic.  

In order to achieve this, we must listen to adolescent girls themselves.

Ireland is committed to amplifying African voices, both on the Security Council and in its activities more generally. For this reason, the Embassy of Ireland in France, in partnership with the International Organization of La Francophonie, is organizing this webinar to provide a platform for two young activists from the Sahel who work with Plan International. 

We are one of Ireland’s main partners in the Sahel region, so we are delighted that young people engaged with Plan International will have their voices heard!

They will present the challenges they face as young girls in the Sahel, both in the context of COVID-19 and more generally, and will bring their recommendations to international partners.

One of the main outcomes of this event will be the formulation of recommendations for actions that governments can take to ensure that the challenges facing adolescent girls are addressed effectively and concretely. 

Details of the webinar:

This event is part of a series of webinars organized by the Irish Embassy in France dedicated to promoting the voice of women in the Sahel. It will take place in French and will last approximately 60 minutes.

Her Excellency Madame Patricia O’Brien, Ambassador of Ireland will make introductory remarks, after which Madame Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary General of the OIF will give her perspectives on the challenges facing adolescent girls in the Sahel and on the work that the OIF accomplishes to meet these challenges. 

This will be followed by a speech by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, who will discuss her many years of experience in promoting access to education for young girls.

Then there will be a “round table” with the participation of:

  • Madame Fatoumata Haidara, Sahel Director, Plan International;
  • Clement Troare, Education Advisor, Plan International Burkina Faso:
  • Rosaline Tolno, final year student, Mathematical Sciences, at Joseph Broz Tito high school in Gueckedou, Guinea. She is the vice-president of the Club Des Filles in Gueckedou.
  • Francine Kouma (Burkina Faso), student and activist. She is 19 years old and is in the 1st year of Communication. She took part in the Girls’ Takeover in 2020 and also recorded messages to end online gender-based-violence.
  • Mawamoussé Marlène Wazina (Burkina Faso), 3rd year student in Economics, focused on the macro economy and development management. She is 20 years old and in March 2019, she participated in an exchange on the factors that hinder the education and schooling of young girls with Alice Albright, Director of the Global Partnership for Education. She was also an organiser for International Day of the Girl 2019.