This report is the culmination of five years’ implementation of ActionAid’s multi-country project aimed at empowering girls and enabling them to enjoy their rights to education and participation in a violence-free environment. The uniqueness of this project resides in the connection between research, community intervention and advocacy reinforced by a strong partnership approach.
On ActionAid website are also available the executive summary (French and English) and the success stories (English and Portuguese).
Attaining primary and secondary school education for girls in Liberia remains a major challenge. Girls aged below 10 years are pulled out of formal education, by traditionalists, and forced to take part in traditional female initiation ceremonies in informal settings locally known as bush schools. As a consequence, nearly half of women in Liberia are illiterate, according to United Nations statistics. However a programme supported by the United Nations Human rights office is engaging with some of the rural communities in Liberia to encourage them to allow girls to complete formal education. One county, the Grand Cape Mount has been successful in convincing traditionalists to stop pulling girls out of school, for initiation.
The government of Malawi should increase efforts to end widespread child and forced marriage, or risk worsening poverty, illiteracy, and preventable maternal deaths in the country.
According to government statistics, half of the girls in Malawi will be married by their 18th birthday, with some as young as age 9 or 10 being forced to marry. Malawi faces many economic challenges, but the rights of girls and women, including the right to education, should not be sacrificed as a result.
In April 2015 the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology issued a statement banning pregnant girls from mainstream education. The exclusion of pregnant girls from mainstream education and from sitting exams is a violation of their right to education and a discriminatory measure which reinforces negative stereotypes about girls. Enforcement of the ban was immediate and was done through searches and physical examination of girls. Threatening their physical integrity and privacy Despite the establishment by the government with the support of some international donors of an alternative “bridging “ education system that would allow pregnant girls to continue going to school, there are still concerns about the human rights of the girls. Mainly for their lack of choice in attending one system or the other, their inability to take exams and the persistent stigmatisation of the ban.
More than 40 percent of Tanzania’s adolescents are left out of quality lower-secondary education despite the government’s positive decision to make lower-secondary education free.
This report examines obstacles, including some rooted in outmoded government policies, that prevent more than 1.5 million adolescents from attending secondary school and cause many students to drop out because of poor quality education. The problems include a lack of secondary schools in rural areas, an exam that limits access to secondary school, and a discriminatory government policy to expel pregnant or married girls.
For a summary, see here.
For an esay to read version, in English, see here.
The joint general comment elaborates on the nature of State Party obligations that arise from Article 6 (b) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and Article 21 (2) the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. It expounds upon the underlying principles of interpretation that serve as a lens through which the relevant provisions of the aforementioned instruments should be understood. It further describes legislative, institutional and other measures that should be taken by States Parties to give effect to the prohibition of child marriage and to protect the rights of those at risk or affected by child marriage.
The scope of the general comment covers children in child marriages, children at risk of child marriage and women who were married before the age of 18. The document gives guidance to governments, csos, igos, child protection clusters, practitioners, individuals and groups in any effort towards the elimination of child marriage and protection of children in this context.
The joint comments includes a section (IV) on state obligations which stipulates that states must adopt institutional measures around education. In particular, it requests states parties to "put in place measures to retain all children but especially girls in school and to raise awareness about the importance of their education." Policies states must adopt include measures to encourage pregnant girls to keep attending or returning to school.
This case study was produced for the UN Durban Review Conference organised in Geneva in 2009. It briefly presents the violation of pregnant adolescent girls’ right to education in Tanzania and makes recommendations.
The African continent has the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world, according to the United Nations. Every year, thousands of girls become pregnant at the time when they should be learning history, algebra, and life skills. Adolescent girls who have early and unintended pregnancies face many social and financial barriers to continuing with formal education.
All girls have a right to education regardless of their pregnancy, marital or motherhood status. The right of pregnant—and sometimes married—girls to continue their education has evoked emotionally charged discussions across African Union member states in recent years. These debates often focus on arguments around “morality,” that pregnancy outside wedlock is morally wrong, emanating from personal opinions and experiences, and wide-ranging interpretations of religious teachings about sex outside of marriage. The effect of this discourse is that pregnant girls – and to a smaller extent, school boys who impregnate girls– have faced all kinds of punishments, including discriminatory practices that deny girls the enjoyment of their right to education. In some of the countries researched for this report, education is regarded as a privilege that can be withdrawn as a punishment.