Education Plus launched in response to alarming rates of HIV among adolescent girls and young women in Africa

Unequal gender power dynamics continue to put women and girls at higher risk of acquiring HIV. Six out of seven new HIV infections among adolescents aged between 15 and 19 years in sub-Saharan Africa are among girls and 4200 adolescent girls and young women between 15 and 24 years became infected with HIV every week in 2020

GENEVA, 6 July 2021—Five United Nations organizations have joined forces to launch a new initiative to ensure that all girls and boys in sub-Saharan Africa have equal access to free secondary education by 2025 and to contribute towards preventing HIV. Education Plus, launched at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, France, is an ambitious five-year high-level drive to accelerate action and investments to expand access to secondary education for all young people and to advance adolescent girls’ and young women’s health, education and rights in sub-Saharan Africa.

Before COVID-19 struck, around 34 million secondary school-aged girls in sub-Saharan Africa were being denied a full education and an estimated 24% of adolescent girls and young women (15–24 years) in the region were not in education, training or employed, compared to 14.6% of young men. One in four young people in sub-Saharan Africa aged 15–24 years are illiterate and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that in 2020 school closures due to COVID-19 impacted around 250 million students in the region, millions of whom may never return to the classroom.

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