Girls Connect with Parliamentarians

Girls Connect with Parliamentarians online event

When: Wednesday 14th October 2020

This online event, taking place a few days after International Day of the Girl (11 October), addressed how the future partnership between the EU and Africa will represent an opportunity to promote girls’ rights. It was an occasion for EWAG youth advocates to be heard by decision-makers, stress the challenges they face in their communities and present their proposals on how the EU and the AU could partner to promote girls’ rights.

The debate focused on four thematic areas identified by EWAG young advocates as priorities: health, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence, education, and youth economic empowerment, as well as participation in decision-making. 

The Parliamentarians had the opportunity to listen to EWAG youth advocates voices and messages, presenting at the same time the work that, as members of parliaments, they are doing to advance girls’ rights.

About the panel

Moderator: Kim Chakanetsa

Kim Chakanetsa is an award winning Zimbabwean broadcaster. She currently presents a weekly programme called The Conversation on BBC World Service. She is also the presenter of BBC Africa’s podcast, The Comb.





Canelle, 25, France

Canelle is originally from France and she is currently studying for a Master’s degree in European and International Affairs. As a former high-level volleyball player and passionate about sport, she learned how sport can help to overcome many life’s challenges, in particular for women. That is why, today, as a Youth Ambassador for ONE Campaign, she is raising her voice for a more equal and fairer world for girls so that no one is left behind.

In the last five years, the 2030 Gender Equality targets have not made any progress in Europe and Canelle’s goal, as a young activist, is to actively participate in the European Week of Action for Girls and urge European governments to ensure a safe and equal future for all adolescent girls.

Claudia, 22 Ghana

Claudia volunteers with the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) and is currently the National President of its youth wing called the Youth Action Movement (YAM), as well as the Chairperson for the West Africa Anglophone YAM sub region. She is a Youth Advocate and a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Activist.

Claudia is engaged in quite a number of advocacy activities in relation to the rights of the girl child and women, including partaking in affirmative action walks to sensitize the public on the need to include women in decision making, to ensure equitable distribution of resources,  and to fight against discrimination against women, in school and out of school; outreaches to empower and build the capacities of young girls by holding Life Planning Skills (LPS) trainings for them; and engagement with some stakeholders, religious and community leaders on issues relating to the rights of the girl child. Claudia organises the members of her association, the Youth Action Movement, to actively engage and participate in the fight to end child marriages in Ghana, whilst partnering with likeminded organisations like the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA).

Two major questions interest Claudia and she hopes to discuss them with the EU decision makers: violence against women and girls, and access to quality education and health services for women and girls.

Elena, 27, Greece

Elena comes from Greece and is 27 years old. She has a legal background and is passionate about European law and international relations. At the age of 7 she joined the local Scout troop in her neighbourhood and in her early 20’s she joined the Greek Guiding Association as an assistant leader in the Brownie section. Besides leading a Brownie unit, Elena, together with Guides and Girl Scouts from all over Europe, is a volunteer at the External Relations working group of WAGGGS Europe Region. Her main areas of interest are gender equality, education and empowerment of girls and young women as well as protection of unaccompanied and separated children. Her favourite breakfast is a “koulouri”, a Greek sesame bread ring!

Rahma, 23, Kenya

Rahma is a 23-year-old youth leader passionate about health and development. She was born and raised in Bungoma (Kenya) and has a diploma in Project Planning and Managemet from the University of Nairobi. Rahma has been using her skills to advocate for reproductive health issues in her community, targeting policy makers and leaders. She has also received extensive training on advocacy, human rights, and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and had a chance to participate in international trainings and conferences as well as having a chance to share experiences on gender issues, sexual reproductive health and family planning, human rights advocacy, HIV/AIDS.

She actively participated in the YouLead Summit in Arusha (Tanzania), one of the large diplomatic gathering of young people in East Africa, where she gave her contributions to advance youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. She continues to use her advocacy skills and professional background to advocate for the sexual and reproductive health of young people. Her passion is to be a leading female voice in Africa for Sustainable Development and Gender Equality.

MEP Chrysoula Zacharopoulou 

Ms Zacharopoulou is a Member of European Parliament (Renew Europe Group), elected in France, Vice-President of the Committee on Development, 1st Vice-President of the delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and Member of the Committee on Women’s rights and Gender equality, and a surgeon-gynaecologist by training. Born and raised in Greece, she studied in Rome, Italy where she completed a Medical Degree, in Strasbourg, France, where she took a specialisation in minimally invasive and robotic surgery, and finally a Master’s degree in Health management and policies from the Paris Institute of Political Studies. Ms Zacharopoulou specialised on the research on the endometriosis disease. In France, she founded an association (“info-endometriose”) and led a national campaign in order to raise awareness on this underdiagnosed disease that affects 1 in 10 women. A strong advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, Ms Zacharopoulou brought forward issues such as the empowerment of women and girls in rural areas, menstrual hygiene and painful menstruation to the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) of the United Nations in 2017 and 2018. She was appointed European Parliament Rapporteur on the Africa-EU strategy.

Hon. Millie Odhiambo, MP (Kenya)

Hon. Millie Odhiambo Mabona is a Member of Parliament in Kenya. Hon Odhiambo first thought about becoming Mbita MP at age 13. The graduate of University of Nairobi School of Law has worked as a lawyer and women and children rights activist all her life. She founded CRADLE an organization that promotes the rights of children in 1997 and has received the YWCA Democracy Award and the Eve woman of the year for human rights and gender. She will participate and provide perspectives from the African context. She is a member of Budget standing committee in the National Assembly of Kenya.

Hon. Esther Passaris, MP (Kenya)

The Honorable Esther M Passaris, OGW is a Member of Parliament representing Nairobi County at The National Assembly since August 2017. She is an accomplished business, political leader, and social entrepreneur, having been awarded the Guinness Stout Effort Award in 1995 for empowering deaf persons at Sharper Images, her first company. In 2002, Hon. Passaris established Adopt-A-Light Ltd;  through which she is credited with implementing apioneering project to install lighting infrastructure in the streets of Nairobi and in informal settlements.

In the National Assembly, Hon. Passaris is an active member of the Public Investments Committee and the Special Funds Account Committee. She is also a founding member of the Kenya Parliamentary Caucus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) & Business and an active member of the Kenyan chapter of the African Parliamentarians Against Corruption (APNAC). Internationally, Hon Passaris is the Chapter Chair, Eastern and Southern Africa at UNITE Global Parliamentarians, an association of current and former legislators working to end infectious diseases. She is also a member of the Global Parliamentary Alliance for Health, Rights and Development (GPA) and European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF).