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Macron makes girls' education imperative for Sahel development aid
France intends to contribute some 15 milllion euro to facilitate access to education for girls in Niger. While meeting President Mahamadou Issoufou in Niamey last week, President Emmanuel Macron stressed the need to fight forced marriages and ensure that women and girls have access to family planning.
President Macron said that it was important that women and girls could choose how many children they wanted to have.
"I want to highlight France's close involvement in the education sector. It is important for the young people to be trained in their own country, have the means to take care of their family and build a future there."
Macron insisted that education must become a priority for girls in Niger. Meanwhile, President Mahamadou Issoufou outlined how free and mandatory education in Niger until the age of 16 can help prevent forced marriages and teenage pregnancies.
Tewodros Melesse is the former director general of IPPF, International Planned Parenthood Federation. With 30 years experience working in the field of development and familly planning, he says that he has seldom come across Western leaders highlighting the situation of women & girls when talking about development, migration & terrorism, especially when it comes to the Sahel region.
"If young girls are not allowed even to go to primary schools because they are given away for marriage, that reduces the possibility of women participating in the development of the country," says Melesse.
The fertility rate in Niger is 7.6 births per woman. Melesse explains that this means more mouth to feed.
"Imagine a family [living on] less than a dollar per day, what is their perspective of having safety in their life."
And for Tewodros Melesse, this insecurity could be a gateway towards terrorism.
"Violence is caused by desperation... The source of terrorism is when you loose hope on day to day life, when you cannot eat, when you cannot see tomorrow. Forget about tomorrow, you cannot even see what is going to happen when you wake up in the morning."