By Ebi Kesiena
Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Ghana’s First Lady, has urged African leaders to prioritize girls’ education and empowerment, emphasizing that only empowered women can empower others.
The first lady noted this during her address at the recently concluded Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative meeting in Mumbai, India,
While reiterating the significance of empowering girls in Africa for greater achievements and success, she pointed out that these empowered girls would become the mothers who would raise the next generation of empowered children.
‘‘It is important that we empower women because they are the mothers who will raise empowered children in the future’’ she said.
Mrs. Akufo-Addo also highlighted her own initiative, named “Because I want to Be,” which aims to ensure that adolescent girls stay in school until at least after senior high school and provides employable skills training for those not in school.
Also, the Chief Executive Officer of the Merck Foundation Africa, Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, pledged the Foundation’s support in achieving the goals of various social interventions initiated by African first ladies, particularly in the areas of health and education.
Working with the first ladies had greatly enabled the Merck Foundation to deploy across the continent, learning and implementing social change initiatives that was impactful and full of promise, she said.
She revealed the introduction of an animated cartoon series that utilizes art and artistic forms as a means to bring about behavioral change.
“The Foundation intends to continue using comic books, music, fashion, cartoons and other art forms to get young people to make better decisions about their health,” she indicated.
The meeting extended a warm welcome to the new first ladies from Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe, namely Dr. Debora Katisa Carvalho and Mrs. Maria De Fatima Vila Nova. Both have assumed the role of Merck More than a Mother Ambassadors in their respective countries.
Also in attendance were the first ladies of Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Liberia, Malawi, The Gambia and Zimbabwe.