Girls Belong Here: AstraZeneca Shows Commitment to Gender Equality and Female Representation in Africa

To celebrate International Day of the Girl Child, the Africa team at AstraZeneca ( joined the #GirlsBelongHere global campaign, an initiative of Plan International, to promote inclusion and raise awareness on the obstacles faced by young women in Africa.

As a science-led company, AstraZeneca is passionate about inspiring and advancing the next generation of women and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). To commemorate the day, senior AstraZeneca executives stepped down from their roles of the day to give 15 girls from Johannesburg, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Accra and Lagos a unique opportunity to take charge. Participants attended meetings and workshops and followed regional leaders of the multinational including, among others, Barbara NelAfrica Cluster Country President, Arpit BansalCountry Director for Sub-Saharan Africa and Taryn Purdon Director of the Oncology Business Unit for the African Cluster. The Africa Boardroom takeover event also connected girls from across the region to discuss how to overcome biases and barriers to women’s empowerment and inspire them to take the lead.

Colleen Ratseane, a young entrepreneur who participated in the Orange Corners program in South Africa, shared her professional journey with the participants. The day also included visits with key AstraZeneca stakeholders, networking with AstraZeneca team members and participating in team brainstorming workshops.

Barbara Nel, National President of the African Cluster (South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Francophone Africa) says: “We are strongly committed to supporting and empowering women in leadership positions in our African cluster AstraZeneca. The Girls Belong Here initiative is part of this commitment, promoting the visibility of girls, creating new opportunities and investing in girls across Africa to step into the shoes of diverse leaders in a massive takeover. By connecting across geographic boundaries, girls have the opportunity to share their perspective on the importance of female representation in business and health care and what we, as business leaders business, should know about the challenges that young leaders face so that we can empower them to overcome them.

Gender is a key determinant of health, and gender inequality leads to health risks for women and girls. The influence of society, culture, or tradition can influence and impact health choices, health-promoting behaviors, and health outcomes for women and girls. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing barriers; measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 have forced young women out of school, many of whom may never return to class. Creating education and employment opportunities, like #GirlsBelongHere takeovers, can lead to positive health outcomes for girls and young women.

Barbara Nel added: “It starts with inspiring young girls to be confident, to dream big and to express themselves and show them that Girls Belong Here. Many thanks to our partners for joining forces with us through the Africa Cluster to ensure that we bring about positive change. Together we can make a difference.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of AstraZeneca.

About #GirlsBelongHer:
The #GirlsBelongHere campaign ( is a global initiative to advocate and support gender equality and highlight the barriers girls face in reaching their full potential. In Africa, AstraZeneca has partnered with NGOs across the continent, including Talent Development Institute ( (South Africa), Plan International Kenya (, Plan International Ghana (, Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN) (, PSI Ethiopia ( and Orange Corners South Africa (

More information on AstraZeneca’s #GirlsBelongHere campaign can be found here (

About AstraZeneca’s Young Health Program:
AstraZeneca’s Young Health Program (YHP) is a global disease prevention program that focuses solely on young people between the ages of 10 and 24, living in vulnerable and deprived environments around the world. The YHP aims to prevent the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and mental health problems.

Delivered in partnership with Plan International and UNICEF and based on research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, it has reached more than 30 countries and 12 million young people with information about NCD risk behaviors. The YHP aims to support the development of protective environments and to empower young people to make informed choices about their health. A holistic and integrated program, it combines community programs, research and advocacy and supports the development of young leaders. The YHP is part of AstraZeneca’s sustainability commitment to use our capabilities to have the most significant impact where society needs it: health.

To learn more about the Young Health program, visit

This press release was issued by APO. Content is not vetted by the African Business editorial team and none of the content has been checked or validated by our editorial teams, proofreaders or fact checkers. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.

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