We are girls from across 41 countries who have gathered here in Freetown on the eve of the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights. We have shared space, shared stories, we have learnt from each other and from the women who walk with us. We have felt our shared power in this space. We have learnt that our struggles are the same struggles, even within our differences.
When we are together we can learn, connect and create friendships that will stretch across the Continent even after this conference.
We want to be together more, we need spaces like this. We are too separated from each other, too alone in our individual struggles. Moments like this are not often enough. We need them to make it through all what we must navigate as girls. We need these conversations. We need to be able to ask questions. To answer each other. To answer ourselves with love and grace and care. To say sorry to our bodies
In this space we have sat together as girls and with the women who walk beside us and we have named for each other that our bodies are deeply our own. That our bodies are beautiful and powerful. That we have the right to make all the choices for our bodies and our lives. That we have all the rights to pleasure that the world has to offer us. That if our bodies were a Utopia we would blossom, open, that we would always know how beautiful we are. That no would mean no, and yes would mean yes, and no-one anywhere would be able to take this away from us.
This is our offering, together, to all of you in this room. A reminder. An invitation. To stand with us. We need more. We need more platforms like this. We need you to trust us. To trust us with the money we need to do this work because we are already doing the work. Look at us. So powerful, even without you, imagine how powerful if we are all together?