Press Release

Malawi launches Education Plus Initiative at the High-level Intergenerational Dialogue on Generation Equality and Women’s Leadership

07 April 2022

This week at the high-level intergenerational dialogue on generation equality and women’s leadership, the Malawi Government will join the United Nations to launch the Education Plus Initiative in Malawi in line with the continental efforts.

PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT

Malawi launches Education Plus Initiative at the High-level Intergenerational Dialogue on Generation Equality and Women’s Leadership.

WHEN:          Friday, 8th April 2022.  9:00 am

WHERE:       Bingu International Conference Center (BICC), Lilongwe, Malawi.

WHY: Adolescent girls and young women in Malawi continue to experience multiple marginalizations, face unequal gender power dynamics and remain at a greater risk of acquiring HIV. They are 2.5 times more likely than their male peers to acquire HIV, and more than 51% of new HIV infections in the country are among this group.

Despite progress over the years, only 27% of girls enrol in secondary school, only 13% will attend, and less than 5% will complete secondary education.  The country still has a high rate of teenage pregnancy – 29% of adolescent girls aged 15–19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child and the proportion keeps increasing. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these vulnerabilities and calls for a renewed comprehensive response and action to guarantee girls’ and young women's health and education rights today. Adolescent girls in Malawi are especially at risk of never returning to school, and digital divides bar many from remote learning.

The pandemic has heightened the risk and vulnerability to gender-based violence, child marriage, maternal mortality, unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexual and reproductive health consequences. One in five girls has been sexually abused before they reach 18 years.

Adolescent girls and young women also shoulder the burdens of unpaid care and domestic work, further reducing their chances of ever returning to school. There are limited opportunities for skilling for the many who are out of school. The loss of livelihoods over the last two years threatens to entrench and trap millions in cycles of poverty and extreme vulnerabilities.

Malawi is not alone; many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected by the AIDS epidemic. Every week, approximately 4 200 adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa acquire HIV. In 2020, five in six adolescents aged between 15-19 newly acquiring HIV in the region were girls. And an estimated 23 300 adolescent girls and young women died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2020, making it the second leading cause of death of adolescent girls and young women after maternal mortality.

Evidence shows that education provides protective advantage for girls in reducing their risk of HIV infection. Completion of secondary education by adolescent girls has reduced HIV infection by up to one-half in some countries. In response, five UN agencies - UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women - launched the Education Plus initiative at the Generation Equality Forum in 2021.

WHAT: This week at the high-level intergenerational dialogue on generation equality and women’s leadership, the Malawi Government will join the United Nations to launch the Education Plus Initiative in Malawi in line with the continental efforts.

The new five-year game-changing initiative calls for political action and leadership to step-up policies and investments that work best for adolescent girls’ and young women’s agency and for countries’ growth and prosperity. Through the initiative, government leaders, development partners, civil society, community and young women leaders are coming together in a renewed push for free access to quality secondary education for all girls and boys by 2025 while providing a Plus package to protect health rights and deliver on gender equality and the empowerment of girls and young women in Africa.

In addition to universal secondary education, the initiative calls for universal access to comprehensive sexuality education; fulfilment of sexual and reproductive health and rights; freedom from gender-based and sexual violence; school-to-work transitions, and economic security and empowerment.

For more information on Education Plus Initiative, visit https://www.unaids.org/en/topics/education-plus

MEDIA CONTACTS

Phillip Pemba, Communications Officer, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Malawi on phillip.pemba@un.org.

ABOUT UN IN MALAWI

Currently, there are more than 20 Agencies and specialized organizations of the United Nations active in Malawi which, through their work, contribute to ensuring a better life for the people of Malawi. The UN contributes towards national development priorities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), a joint cooperation agreement between the UN and the Government of Malawi.

Malawi launches Education Plus Initiative at the High-level Intergenerational Dialogue on Generation Equality and Women’s Leadership

Phillip

Phillip Pemba

RCO
Development Coordination Officer, Programme Communications and Advocacy

UN entities involved in this initiative

UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
UNAIDS
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative