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U.S Congressional staff visit UNFPA supported safe space in Zambia

As part of a five-day Learning Tour for U.S. Congressional Staff, organized by CARE USA and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a bipartisan delegation of U.S. Congressional staffers visited a UNFPA and UKAid supported girls' safe space in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. The visit was aimed at learning about the plight of women, adolescents and youth in order to effectively advocate for their health and development both globally and in Zambia.

During the delegations’ visit to the safe space, the voices and representation of the girls affirmed that leveraging catalytic factors that improve access to socio-economic opportunities can enable marginalized adolescent girls fulfill their potential.

"Every week, our mentor takes us through various topics such as building self-esteem and confidence; setting future goals; gender-based violence; child marriage; HIV and AIDS; as well as other adolescent health related issues. The safe space has taught us the value of education and encouraged us to make  positive contributions within our communities" says 15 year old Martha* who regularly attends the safe space sessions.

The Safe Space Programme in Zambia

In many developing countries, girls’ safe spaces have emerged as a key strategy for the protection and empowerment of adolescent girls.  Within these safe spaces, young women serve as peer educators and mentors for other young women and girls, providing positive role models and examples of young female leadership and empowerment.

In Zambia,  over 15,000 adolescent girls have been reached through 557 safe spaces established as part of the “UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme on Ending Child Marriage”, supported by UKAid, European Union, Canada and the Netherlands. Implemented by the Young Women’s Christian Association of Zambia (YWCA), the safe spaces are aimed at equipping girls affected and at risk of child marriage with life skills that can enable them resist child marriage, including associated risks for HIV, teenage pregnancy and school drop-out, among others.