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October 11: International Day of the Girl – the professional integration of teenage mothers in Mali

Monday 12 October 2020

On October 11, we celebrate International Day of the Girl. This year, we also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which remains today the major global blueprint for achieving gender equality and the human rights of women and girls around the world. However, since the Declaration, inequality rate between men and women have remained significant.  The issues of violence against girls, access to education and to a decent work are, among others, areas where progress has been insufficient. There is an urgent need for action against all forms of discrimination and inequalities affecting marginalized and vulnerable young girls.

Today is the occasion to raise awareness about the reality of young mothers in Mali! For several years, we have been supporting these young girls along with the Association Jeunesse et Développement du Mali (AJDM) by providing accommodation and support in building a professional career.

Who are the young girls that we support?

In Mali, rural girls, often minors, leave their home villages to find work in the capital, Bamako. Illiterate and without professional training, most of them work as housekeepers. These young girls are often exploited by their employers, economically but also sexually, regularly resulting in unintended pregnancies. Returning to their community of origin, without any money and with an “illegitimate” child is often impossible for the young mothers. In most cases, this situation results in the loss of their job and a family. Hence, the street becomes their only alternative where young girls and their babies / children are exposed to multiple dangers.

The project we are supporting provides accommodation for these young girls and their children as well as food, health and psychosocial support. The young mothers are sensitized and can express their opinion on matters related to their situation, such as health and reproduction issues. The project also provides professional trainings in sewing, restoration or henna tattooing. The young girls have also access to literacy courses, entrepreneurship and take part in workshop to inform them on their rights to empower them as citizens and future women. Once their professional plan has been approved, the AJDM also supports girls in their professional integration by helping them to set up their income-generating activity.

All along teenage mothers’ families are integrated into the process of integrating and orienting the girls and their children. This continuous awareness-raising work is essential to restore young mothers’ confidence and to sensitize the family circle on girls’ fundamental rights. It is only in doing so that we can guarantee them a successful and sustainable social and economic reintegration. Every year since 2018, the AJDM has welcomed and cared for 30 young mothers and their 30 children.

Although AJDM’s impressive work enables teenage mothers to become independent, the International Day of the Girl reminds us that it is necessary to mobilize families, communities and society as a whole to act on the systemic causes of inequalities gender.

Find out more details on this project

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