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Four things you need to know about the WCA Commitment

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9 May 2024 Tags: education, WCA Commitment, West and Central Africa, Young People

The West and Central Africa (WCA) Commitment is a political commitment of 25 countries, who have pledged to invest in the education and health of young people. Here are four things you need to know about the WCA Commitment.

WCA Commitment

What is the WCA Commitment?

Ministers of Education and Health from 25 countries of West and Central Africa gathered on 6 April 2023 in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, to endorse a political commitment for educated, healthy and thriving adolescents and young people.

The objective of this WCA Commitment is to “enable the region to capitalise on its demographic dividend by focusing on timely access to comprehensive quality education and information programmes and health services adapted to the needs of adolescents and young people in West and Central Africa.”  By addressing these priorities, the region can make significant progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on health, education and gender equality.

Why is the WCA Commitment needed?

Amongst several challenges, West and Central Africa have the highest adolescent birth rate in the world. More than one in every seven girls aged 14 years and younger are married. In some countries in the region, three out of every ten girls are married before they are 15. Also, one in four adolescent girls and nearly one in five adolescent boys in the WCA region do not receive any formal education or training.

These and many more issues, including high HIV infection rates, an unmet need for contraceptives and family planning, high rates of drug abuse, and low access to adolescent- and youth-friendly reproductive health services are critical reasons for this regional commitment. The signatures of those 25 governments, committing themselves to realise educated, healthy, and thriving adolescents and young people in their country, are an important milestone.

How are young people involved in reaching the WCA Commitment goals?

Julienne Woueuga GBATO, who is President of the Youth Action Movement (YAM) of AIBEF in Côte d’Ivoire has been involved since WCA’s kick-off meeting in 2023. “Since the launch of the Commitment, our activities have been focused on advocacy to ensure that our governments honor their commitments towards adolescents and young people. We also take part in various multi-stakeholder consultation workshops, where we raise our voice for sexuality education for out of school adolescents.


Partly thanks to the work of youth advocates such as Julienne, several steps have been made. “Before the WCA, sexuality education was mostly taught in schools in urban areas. During the workshops, in collaboration with UNFPA, and with the support of Equipop, we developed an action plan that aimed to expand this reach to adolescents and young people in rural areas. It gives me joy to say that we are making progress. We are also supporting the Ministry of Health in finalising a digital application that provides sexuality education to adolescents and young people.  And it makes me proud to see that Côte d’Ivoire is giving more room to young people in decision-making bodies. Of course, there are still challenges, but compared to ten years ago, access for young people to sexual and reproductive health services and products have clearly improved.”

WCA Commitment

What is the Campaign ‘Education Saves Lives about?

To mark the one-year anniversary of the WCA Commitment, a digital campaign was launched from 9 May 2024 to 7 June 2024. The campaign ‘Education Saves Lives’ sheds light on the impact of the WCA Commitment and the realities that young people face in these nations, particularly early and unintended pregnancies, gender-based violence, child marriage and HIV.

One of the posts includes the story of Amadou Kone, teacher in Côte d’Ivoire, who was trained through the Ado Avance Ensemble programme. In a video story he states: “By training teachers and peer educators on sexual and reproductive health and rights, we can effectively reach adolescents and young people with age-appropriate information.”

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