2nd AFRICAN GYW FESTIVAL
Written by Michelle Otiato,
This was a three-day event which was held from 14-16th of June and was held in Accra, Ghana. More than 50 (fifty) girls and young women from around Africa attended this Festival. On the subject, I Speak 4 Myself, the event brought together girls and young women to learn from one another, speak up, and interact with policymakers.
On the first day, they talked on the convenience and discipline on the upcoming spaces to be held to be able to grasp and engage more efficiently. Girls were said to still be invisible even in spaces where they are the primary topic. They talked on ways to engage to make the festival a safe space for all, to share ideas, discuss and to reflect. They were taught to champion feminist leadership principles by enabling others to have the time to speak and avoid dominating or interrupting the conversation and to respect opinions and ideas of others. They were also given opportunities to co-create the space to what they want it to look like for the next few days, what they want to learn and what meaningful interactions they wanted.
On the second day which was based more on presentations on the challenges that girls and the young women face in the different countries in Africa. Most of the countries were facing the same issues and same areas and they were.
Unfavorable educational system where it should be accessible, of quality and affordable
child marriages which is said to put the lives of the young girls in danger hence the parents to be advised on allowing their children to grow
Women should be given more opportunities in policy making in terms of politics where they are mostly left out
reproduction and sexual health
cultural and religious norms that are unfavorable to the girl child such as FGM Hence were recommending the religious and cultural leaders to be involved in spaces
the government to adopt and enforce laws to protect the young women and girls
These are some of the issues that were common and important that were alike each countries’ representation.
On the last day, the meeting was brief and as they called it, it focused on “declaration of Accra”. This meant that, with the different countries each girl came from, they declared that women have a voice, they are their holders of their own destiny and they can speak for themselves. It was said that it is important for young women and girls to be active and know the pan Africanism. The young women and girls to grow and become ambassadors to create voices in spaces to influence not only continental wise but also in their communities for they are the authors of their own destiny. On this day they also had a guest of honor, Mrs. Nadia Ahmed Abdalla, the Chief administer secretary of youth affairs in Kenya. She was an example of a role model to women who made it from marginalized and from a community where human voices were only whispers that were allowed. She advised the young girls who have experienced abuse to use it as power to bring themselves up and not down.
In conclusion the festival was a meaningful and educational journey for the young women and as they went back to their countries, they had a lot of experience to share with their fellows in empowering each other