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#InvestingInWomen&Girls" in Zambia!

21 October 2017
Minister of Higher Education Prof. Nkandu Luo; UNFPA Zambia Representative Dr. Mary Otieno; University of Zambia Vice Chancellor Prof. Luke Mumba; Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor Dr. Tukiya Kankasa Mabula and Ecobank Managing Director Mr. Kola Adeleke at the "What If..." event held to launch the 2017 State of World Population Report in Zambia

"I want to become a neurosurgeon, specialized in the nervous system. Iv been inspired by Ben Carson...and the fact that it really hurts me to see alot of people die from complications related to the nervous system because we have a limited number of neurosurgeons in Zambia" says 16 year old Anna Nakanyika, a grade 11 pupil in Lusaka.

Anna's is among the 15 adolescent girls from 3 secondary schools and 9 women from various women's network groups who participated in a "What If..." campaign by the Government of the Republic of Zambia in collaboration with the United Nations System in Zambia (UNFPA, UNESCO, ILO, UNIC, UNICEF, IOM, UN Women). The campaign was conducted in commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child, under the theme Empower Girls: Before, during and after crises” as well as to launch the 2017 State of World Population Report themed “Worlds Apart: Reproductive Health and Rights in an Age of Inequality” - which are both focused on risks and vulnerabilities that limit full actualization of the full potential of women and adolescent girls.

Through a week-long mentorship and coaching session with designated professionals drawn from various walks of life in alignment with the expressed aspirations of the women and girls, the campaign was aimed at showcasing catalytic factors that need to be leveraged to enable marginalized women and adolescent girls achieve their full potential, including equitable access to socio-economic opportunities. It also aimed at advancing the national discourse on the need to reach the furthest from behind first, within Zambia’s development pathway in achieving Vision 2030 aspirations and the far-reaching and complex Sustainable Development Goals.

Key actions by the Government of the Republic of Zambia aimed at empowering our women and girls are clearly articulated in the 7th National Development Plan and Zambia’s Vision 2030 - Ms. Inonge Wina, Vice President of the Republic of Zambia

Speaking at the grand finale event hosted by the University of Zambia on 21st October 2017, Vice President Ms. Inonge Wina - in a speech read on her behalf by Minister of Higher Education Prof. Nkandu Luo – noted the multiple vulnerabilities and inequalities faced by women and adolescent girls in Zambia.

“Despite our country, Zambia, being largely free from internal humanitarian crisis, the Government of the Republic of Zambia acknowledges the vulnerabilities and inequalities faced by women and adolescent girls. Gender-based violence, maternal mortality, child marriage and teenage pregnancy are at crisis levels. Key actions by the Government of the Republic of Zambia aimed at empowering our women and girls are clearly articulated in the 7th National Development Plan and Zambia’s Vision 2030. We are committed to work with national and international partners, to ensure that women and girls – who are often the farthest behind – have improved access to the health, social and economic opportunities that will enable them realize their future potential" Ms. Wina said.

We commit to sustain collaborations with the Government, development partners, civil society and private sector to advance the national discourse on the need to reach the furthest from behind first, within Zambia’s development pathway in achieving Vision 2030 aspirations and the far-reaching and complex Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - Dr. Mary Otieno, UNFPA Zambia Representative

Also speaking at the event, UNFPA Zambia Representative Dr. Mary Otieno, amplified the United Nations' collective purpose to ensure all Zambians benefit from and contribute towards a prosperous middle income country by the year 2030.

“We commit to sustain collaborations with the Government, development partners, civil society and private sector to advance the national discourse on the need to reach the furthest from behind first, within Zambia’s development pathway in achieving Vision 2030 aspirations and the far-reaching and complex Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” Dr. Otieno said.

And Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor Dr. Tukiya Kankasa Mabula  underscored the need to increase economic investments in women and girls. “In this regard, the Bank of Zambia is prioritizing financial inclusion and equitable access to financial services for Zambian women" she said.

In his welcoming remarks, University of Zambia Vice Chancellor Prof. Luke Mumba highlighted that “the University of Zambia has been in the forefront to promote the rights of the girl child in accessing higher education. I am proud to mention that from recent graduation ceremonies, the University has witnessed an increased number of female graduates, with 49% of graduates bieng female”.

UNFPA Representative Dr. Mary Otieno and Ecobank Managing Director Mr. Kola Adeleke pose for a photo with 3 adolescent girls inspiring positive change as they aspire to become a lawyer, doctor and engineer respectively. Ecobank was pleased to commit to sponsor the 3 girls up to  tertiary education level

And as a demonstration of private sectors support towards addressing inequalities faced especially by adolescent girls, Ecobank Zambia Managing Director Mr. Kola Adeleke announced the banks commitment to sponsor the secondary and tertiary education of 3 adolescent girls who participated in the “What If…” campaign. The girls aspire to become a doctor, lawyer and engineer respectively.

As a bank, we will work with respective schools, the University of Zambia, as well as with UNFPA to ensure these girls are sponsored from this point foreward until they graduate from University" Mr. Kola Adeleke, Ecobank Zambia Managing Director.