Burkina Faso + 2 more

Sahelian girls' voices amplified and heard!: Ministerial conference pledge 1.7 billion USD to support the central Sahel

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“[...]We are asking for global solidarity and consideration of our practical and strategic needs as well as more funding for our initiatives [...]".

These words are from Yasmina (Niger), who, along with Nene (Mali) and Sandra (Burkina Faso) used her personal stories and experience to powerfully advocate for commitments to end GBV in the Sahel as well as more funding for girls’ and young women’s initiatives ahead of the recent Ministerial Roundtable on the Central Sahel. At a joint side event on genderbased violence and girls rights, Plan International, CARE and UNFPA supported these young women’s call to urgently strengthen the prevention and response to GBV as part of the humanitarian response in the Sahel. Four days later, the International Community demonstrated its great solidarity which is a good starting point but will need to be consistent and amplified to meet the huge needs in the Sahel.

Plan International appreciates the pledge of 1.7 billion USD to support the humanitarian response for the rest of 2020 and the year 2021 during the Ministerial conference on the central Sahel organized by European Union, United Nations, the governments of Denmark and Germany, on October 20, 2020. It is now critical that these statements translate into funding allocations. Efforts to prevent and respond to ongoing gender-based violence and child protection needs and to ensure girls’ and young women’s sexual and reproductive rights and education are particularly welcome.

Plan International is working to protect children and youth by prioritizing child protection, education, youth economic empowerment and sexual reproductive Health and Rights. These sectors must be prioritized in donor commitments if we want lasting impact at scale in communities for children and young people, especially girls and young women.
Building on its long experience with Sahelian communities, Plan International urges the international community, governments and UN agencies to prioritize the specific needs, rights and voices of girls, who are uniquely and disproportionately impacted. We welcome statements of support and recognition of the gendered impacts of the Sahel crisis by many donors at the conference.

As humanitarian needs are rapidly escalating in this complex crisis, it is imperative that all pledged funding is made available to humanitarian actors as soon possible. Conflict and displacement are driving escalating levels of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, exploitation and abuse towards girls and women in the Sahel. Before COVID-19, at least 44% of girls aged 15-19 in Mali had experienced acts of sexual and physical violence. Countries like Niger report the highest rate of child early and forced marriage in the world (with 76% before the age of 18). Essential institutions such as schools and hospitals are almost non-existent and are regularly destroyed, from 2017 to 2019, 3300 schools were closed due to violence, which caused 650,000 children to be out of school. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these concerns, causing overwhelming health and socio-economic impacts, particularly for girls and women.

Plan International has been operating for more than 40 years in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
Plan International remains an ally for actions to protect young people, girls’ and women’s rights.
Plan International works with remote populations and communities to appropriately respond to the multiple crises including the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is now time to match the financial commitment with the communities’ needs and to better protect children and young people, particularly girls and young women in the central Sahel.

For more information, kindly contact:

  1. Jaire Somo Regional Communication and Media Lead (West and Central Africa)
    Jaire.Somo@plan-international.org (00237 677605793)

  2. Fatoumata Haidara

Director of Sahel Sub-Region Fatoumata.Haidara@plan-international.org