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Empowering women to empower the Sahel

Every girl and young woman in Africa completing secondary education, safe, strong and empowered, free from gender discrimination, violence and HIV.

Education Plus is a joint initiative of UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women. It is a high-level political advocacy drive responding to the alarming rates of HIV among adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

A new advocacy initiative for adolescent girls’ education and empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa, backed by an unstoppable coalition for change led by adolescent girls and young women.

680 000

people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2020

$21.5 billion

was available for the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries


of all people living with HIV were women and girls

Why the initiative

Despite substantial progress in the past decade, sub-Saharan Africa remains the epicentre of the AIDS pandemic. HIV continues to disproportionately impact adolescent girls and young women, who face discrimination fuelled by gender inequalities that compound their vulnerabilities to HIV. Persistent unequal gender power dynamics and gender-based violence drive adolescent girls’ and young women’s sexual and reproductive health risks and burdens. Adolescent girls and young women in the region are more than twice as likely to acquire HIV than their male peers.

Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic requires bold action to end discriminatory policies, laws and practices that deny girls their right to education. Education Plus seeks to build a world in which every adolescent girl and young woman completes secondary education and is empowered to lead a secure, healthy, fulfilling and productive life free of gender discrimination, violence and HIV.

5 in 6 adolescents between 15 and 19 years newly infected with HIV in the region are girls.

African countries stand to benefit from US$500 billion per year over the next 30 years if they harness the demographic dividends.

Millions of adolescent girls and young women in Africa remain out of school, many have lost their livelihoods due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Only 2.2% of total development assistance for health globally was destined to adolescents in 2015—representing an increase of just under 1% since 2003.

Work Areas

The key components of the Education Plus approach include the essential elements of what every adolescent girl and young woman should be entitled to in transitioning to adulthood.

These main areas in which this initiative acts include completion of quality secondary education, 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.

Champion countries

The Champion Countries are frontrunners of the initiative and peer motivators for other countries. The Champion Countries have publicly made a commitment at the highest levels of government to Education Plus.

Thirteen countries have signed on to champion the initiative with a wide range of commitments.



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