The African Child Policy Forum on Friday launched its sixth edition of The African Report on Child Wellbeing, that provides a comprehensive and continental review and analysis on the state of girls in Africa.
According to the report, Africa is home to 308 million girls under 18 years of age. Of these, 61 percent are under 10 and a quarter are in their early adolescence.
Findings in the report show that girls living in Africa today are more likely to be victims of trafficking, sexual abuse and labour exploitation.
It also showed that they are discriminated against by laws relating to marriage and inheritance; and likely to be poorer than boys.
They are also at higher risk of mental health problems; more likely to be excluded from healthcare; and denied a decent education and more likely to drop out of school.
The reports’ authors, the ACPF, said the Covid-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse.
“Girls and women have always been and will continue being the bedrock of African society, then, now and in the future, but their contribution has remained considerably undervalued,” said Graça Machel, chair of the ACPF International Board of Trustees.
Machel said that in order to create a just and inclusive society, to prosper and ensure sustainable development, governments must invest in girl children.
ACPF’s unique Girl-Friendliness Index (GFI) shows that African governments are increasingly becoming more girl-friendly and that some African governments take girls’ rights and wellbeing seriously but many do not.
According to GFI, Mauritius is the most girl-friendly country in Africa, with Tunisia, South Africa, Seychelles, Algeria, Cabo Verde and Namibia also in the top category.
Rated as the least child-friendly was South Sudan, with Chad, Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Central African Republic and Comoros.
Dr Joan Nyanyuki, executive director ACPF, said without determined and targeted action African girls will be left behind for Africa’s Agenda 2060 and Africa’s Agenda for Children 2040.
“Inequality and discrimination remains the norm. This has to change and change now,” Nyanyuki said.
In the report the ACPF calls for African governments, stakeholders and the private sector to recognise that girls are key drivers of transformation.
It said that improving girls lives can trigger chain reactions that ultimately lead towards every person’s dignity, a peaceful and prosperous Africa.
The ACPF is an independent, not-for-profit, Pan-African institute of policy research and dialogue on the African child.