Women call for open dialogue on issue affecting them
9 months ago, 13 Mar 17:38
In New York, Young women from various countries, mainly Africa, attending the largest global gender equality meeting at the UN headquarters in New York say they want to have more freedom in taking decisions that concern their lives. They also want “open’’ dialogue on critical issues affecting them including issues which in most African communities are considered “difficult’’ and “taboo’’ such as sex education. Speaking at different forums, they also called on governments to be flexible on the age a young person can register an organisation which they can use to agitate for rights and issues that affect the youth. CHALLENGES It was observed that in most countries, at least for those who spoke, a person can only register a non-governmental organisation at 18 years, when one is considered an adult. The young women have holding discussions in forums exclusively addressed by them but attended by a multi-generation audience where they recounted challenges that face youthful women and girls especially those living in rural areas of Africa. The young women’s gatherings have been attracting youthful audiences from all over the world and their counterparts from the US, mainly in college. Some of the US young women and girls appeared mesmerised and shocked by tales of hardships and challenges that their counterparts especially in Africa, go through daily, to get education, for instance even as they remain resilient. Clearly touched after a presentation by Kenya’s Christine Terina, about the situation of young women and some of the girls in Samburu and the daily hardships they have to go through and two from Mozambique, a youthful girl stood up pensively: “As a 16-year-old girl from the US, what can I do to help those girls?’’ she posed. A young woman from Liberia, responded that an exchange program between youth from both sides of the world would help in learning and sharing of experiences. FGM The young women singled out lack of information especially on sexual health and reproductive rights, challenges of culture and traditions compounded with harmful practices such as Genital Female Mutilation (FGM), as some of the problems that affect young women and girls especially those who live in the rural areas. Other challenges cited early pregnancies and child marriages and related complications such as obstetric fistula. They young women were also unanimous on the need for open discussions on the thorny issues of sex and abortion. Ms Terina, Project Director of Samburu based Lulu Community Empowerment, spoke of how girls and young women in the county endure difficulties as they balance domestic chores and seeking education. In some of the county’s areas, girls have to walk about 20km after school, in search of water for domestic use, in addition to other work such as cooking for the family, cleaning, washing clothes and has to do homework. But the most difficult and heart breaking, she told participants at the forum organized by the African Womens’ Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) at the Salvation Army Auditorium in New York City, was lack ...
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