Human rights are a top priority for women and girls of African descent. These women are a reflection of the evolution and history of the African continent. Read this article to learn more about the current status of human rights for African girls and women. We’ll also talk about child marriage, female genital mutilation, and access to education. But first, let’s look at how women from Africa are treated in the United States.
Human rights situation of women and girls of African descent
Discrimination against women and girls of African descent is widespread, with intersectional forms of discrimination including gender, race, ethnicity, class, religion, and migrant status. These factors lead to the oppression of millions of people, including women of African descent. This publication analyzes the findings of international human rights bodies to highlight good practices and make recommendations for improving the situation of women and girls of African descent.
In the Americas, there is a vast African diaspora extending from Canada to Argentina. The legacy of colonialism and racism is still visible today. Currently, the International Decade for People of African Descent has marked a prevailing silence on these issues. While the theme of this third annual IDPAD is democracy and poverty eradication, it must not be overlooked. Sadly, many countries still fail to do this, with discrimination and inequality persisting in many areas.
Access to education
Many factors limit the opportunities for girls in Africa to access an education. In many parts of the continent, girls face a range of barriers, including traditional roles that restrict their participation in education, such as the need to care for siblings, fetch supplies, and cook and clean for the family. Because of these barriers, millions of girls fail to finish secondary school. This impacts their future potential and negatively affects their family’s economy.
In parts of Africa, access to education is not free. Girls are the first group to be excluded from formal schooling. Girls who complete secondary school earn 25% more than boys and spend almost 90 percent of their income on their families. They are also less likely to contract HIV. With an education, they are better prepared to become a health worker, lead businesses, and run schools. Ultimately, this makes them a critical force in developing nations.
While most African countries have achieved gender parity in primary education, girls lag behind their male counterparts at secondary school level. In Africa, seven out of 10 girls complete primary education, while only four out of 10 complete lower secondary education. Women who complete secondary education earn twice as much as those who do not. Child marriage in Africa costs countries 63 billion dollars in lost earnings and human capital wealth. AHO works with local networks of men and women to stop child marriage and increase educational attainment.
The long-term consequences of child marriage are often not apparent until the girl reaches adulthood. In Africa, the incidence of child marriage is disproportionately high in sub-Saharan countries, which are plagued by poverty, poor health care facilities, and low use of contraceptive methods. Many girls suffer from nutritional deficiencies. And in addition to being physically and emotionally abusive, child marriage also leads to financial and social disintegration.
Female genital mutilation
The scope of this review focused on female genital mutilation (FGM), specifically on the African continent. We analyzed clinical trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses, and included all relevant studies irrespective of culture, religion, or tribe. We concluded that FGM is a widespread practice, but that the effectiveness of legislation and policy measures is not guaranteed. In particular, FGM may be counterproductive if the laws do not include appropriate measures and enforcement.
FGM is an extreme form of discrimination against women. FGM is nearly always carried out on minors, and violates their right to health, security, and physical integrity. It also violates the right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and may even lead to death. In most cases, however, the practice is illegal. The risks of FGM to girls are far greater in countries that practice it.
Dropout rates in primary grades
In many African countries, the percentage of school dropouts is similar among boys and girls. However, the rates for primary and secondary education differ significantly. In Malawi, for example, the dropout rate for Grade 7 girls was nearly twice as high as for boys, and in Zambia, dropout rates for girls in Grade 11 tripled compared to those for boys in Grade 12. As a result, this disparity is particularly alarming in Africa.
These studies have shown that non-remunerative accountability interventions have impacts. In Nigeria, for example, twice-week texts to teachers and parents reduced dropout by 2.5 percentage points. The impact of texting both parents and teachers was not significant. In Uganda, however, low-attendance teachers experienced the greatest dropout rates. In Tanzania, a school performance publication program increased the number of students who passed exams but also led to increased dropout rates.
Climate change impacting women’s rights
Climate change affects the entire continent, but women in Africa are particularly vulnerable. The impact is compounded by their reliance on the environment. In this article, we explore how to make climate change policy more gender-responsive for women in Africa, focusing on the agriculture sector. Women in Africa are especially vulnerable because of their lack of access to resources, as well as limited rights and access to land. We conclude by discussing the role of women in climate change and ways to address their needs.
Despite the urgency of climate-related action, policy-related gender initiatives have not adequately addressed women’s vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities. In addition, policy documents and initiatives have failed to account for the gender-representative nature of the impacted communities. Women in poor communities play a crucial role in food security and income. They also contribute to community livelihoods and general well-being. Climate change policies and investments should consider this fact, and take action to address it.