The First Lady, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has called on African leaders to pay more attention to girls’ education and empowerment as “only the empowered can empower.”
Speaking at the just-ended Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative meeting in Mumbai, India, she reiterated the importance of empowering girls in Africa, to achieve more and succeed.
“This is because they will be the mothers who will raise empowered children in the next generation,” she said.
Mrs Akufo-Addo highlighted her initiative, dubbed: “Because I want to Be”, which seeks to ensure that adolescent girls stayed in school until at least after senior high school, as well as providing employable skills training for those out of school.
Senator Dr Rasha Kelej, the Chief Executive Officer, Merck Foundation Africa,
pledged the Foundation’s support towards achieving the goals of the various social interventions of the African first ladies, especially in health and education.
Working with the first ladies had greatly enabled the Merck Foundation to deploy across the continent, learning and implementing social change initiatives that was impactful and full of promise, she said.
She announced the introduction of animated cartoon series to deploy art and art forms as a behavioral change tool.
“The Foundation intends to continue using comic books, music, fashion, cartoons and other art forms to get young people to make better decisions about their health,” she indicated.
The meeting welcomed the new first ladies from Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe; Dr Debora Katisa Carvalho, and Mrs Maria De Fatima Vila Nova, respectively.
The two are now Merck More than a Mother Ambassadors in their countries.
In attendance also were first ladies from Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, The Gambia, Liberia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
They have been working on girls’ education, improving access to specialist health care delivery services for marginalised and underserved communities, advocating women’s empowerment and championing the wellbeing of the most vulnerable within their countries.