Potenti'ELLES: In West Africa, Voix EssentiELLES empower young girls

International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated every October 11, is a globally recognized initiative to advocate for the rights and empowerment of girls around the world. A necessary reminder that many girls around the world still face daunting challenges, including limited access to education, healthcare and the disproportionate burden of the consequences of climate change. These challenges underline the urgency of promoting gender equality and the essential role of girls in promoting sustainable development.

In this context, JGEN, an organization dedicated to the defense of girls' rights and empowerment in Senegal, played a crucial role in collaboration with Speak Up Africa. Together, they led a resounding campaign, whose commitment and enthusiasm were evident as they embarked on a journey to make a difference on International Day of the Girl Child. This initiative is part of a wider effort by Voix EssentiELLES, highlighting the importance of giving girls and women a voice in the pursuit of a more equitable society.

The context for this inspiring day is set by the regional "POTENTI'ELLES" campaign, a collective effort across West and Central Africa, focused on advocating for the promotion and protection of girls' rights. Despite significant progress in women's and girls' rights and gender equality, many girls continue to face a multitude of challenges, from limited access to education and healthcare, to the impact of climate change on their conditions. JGEN, in collaboration with Speak Up Africa, has been at the forefront of this campaign, working tirelessly to raise awareness of these challenges and stimulate collective action, demonstrating their dedication and passion in their quest to make a difference on International Day of the Girl.

A day in Fatick

In Fatick, a gathering was held to celebrate the day with a strong sense of determination. The agenda was packed with events that reflected the importance of the day and the urgent challenges facing young girls. The highlight of the day was the reading of an advocacy note by two young girls from Fatick, highlighting the devastating consequences of climate change on their lives, including climate-related school disruptions, economic shocks on climate-sensitive households, increased risk of early marriage, transactional sex, HIV infection and early pregnancy due to lack of education, among others.

Among the 100 girls in attendance, two from the JAGAMMAR Children's Group stood as the voices of their generation, highlighting the intersection of gender equality and climate action. Their words were a reminder that climate change disproportionately affects young girls, who often bear the brunt of its consequences. The authorities present, including the SRAJ manager and the CDPE coordinator, also witnessed this poignant plea, emphasizing the protection and promotion of children's rights in the Fatick department.

JGEN's commitment

JGEN's commitment to empowering young girls is unwavering. The day was a demonstration of their dedication to ensuring that every girl has the opportunity to become a leader. Their focus goes beyond raising awareness - JGEN is actively working to solve critical issues, such as raising the legal age of marriage for girls to 18, ensuring access to basic social services and mitigating the impact of climate change on children.

Support from Speak Up Africa

Speak Up Africa believes in the potential and power of young girls to become agents of change and leaders within their communities, and therefore remains proud to support JGEN in its mission. The organization recognizes that gender equality is at the heart of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDG5), and by investing in young girls, they are helping to build a more equal future for all.

In conclusion, International Day of the Girl was a day of celebration, empowerment and advocacy. It was an opportunity to listen to the voices of young girls who are not only dreaming big, but actively working towards a better future. JGEN's commitment, in collaboration with Speak Up Africa, was at the forefront of the "POTENTI'ELLES" campaign, which is part of the wider Voix EssentiELLES initiatives. Together, Speak Up Africa and JGEN are working to make a difference, and International Day of the Girl is a reminder that the dreams and aspirations of young girls deserve to be celebrated and encouraged.