2017. What a year. As we are closing 2017 let’s take a look at the advancement of women’s rights and issues across the continent! Africa cannot be healed overnight.We have a long way to go but we have made positive steps.  It is very easy to have a negative outlook of Africa over the past year however we should count and celebrate our milestones.


Here are some of the ways Africa has put women and girls first in 2017:


  1. January: Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa kick started the year by revealing plans to provide sanitary pads to girls in 2992 schools in the province.


  1. March: The Zimbabwean government began the process of changing the statutory age of consent from 16 to 18. The troubled country is also in the process of outlawing child marriage. In the country rife with poverty, children are vulnerable to exploitation and child marriages. This is a welcomed step in protecting children and penalising perpetrators.


  1. April: Malawi raised the age of consent and made child marriages illegal.


  1. June: The Kenyan government agreed to provide sanitary pads to girls in public schools. Girls will not be forced to skip school because they do not have sanitary products. This is not the first time the Kenyan government has improved the lives of women and girls – in 2004 the government made sanitary products tax free.


  1. August: Girls in school in Botswana will receive free sanitary products! Girls face gender specific challenges in achieving education. Gender equality cannot be realised if gender specific hurdles are not removed from an early age. This is an awesome win for girls and a better win for society as whole!


  1. September: Ghana made secondary school free for all! Ghanaian children will not receive free education but also free textbooks and meals. Education is a human right. Sadly poverty has blocked children from attending school. They are eager to learn but many parents across the continent cannot afford to pay the tuition. Ghana is an excellent example of leveling the playing field for all children!


  1. September: Nigerian National Home Grown School Feeding Programme fed over 19 000 schools! Over 3 millions have benefited from this government feeding scheme. Nutrition is an important aspect linked to education. Hungry children cannot concentrate in class and end up under-performing because they are hungry.


  1. In December Botswana passed the motion to create a mandatory sex offenders registry. Further it banned sex offenders from working in institutions that deal with children. It is a great step in keeping children safe in Botswana.