South Africa: UNFPA Announces Partnership With Miss South Africa 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida As New Regional Champion

Johannesburg — UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, announced the appointment of Miss South Africa 2020, Shudufhadzo Musida, as UNFPA Regional Champion.

The partnership will promote the rights of women, girls and youth, and contribute to Africa’s Agenda 2063, the Sustainable Development Goals and UNFPA’s three transformative results – ending preventable maternal death, ending unmet need for family planning, and ending gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful practices.

By serving as a regional voice, Ms. Musida will play an instrumental role in advocating for universal access to sexual and reproductive health, as well as the mental health of women and girls in the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region.

“Misunderstood, stigmatized and often left untreated, mental health has become a crisis,” said Lydia Zigomo, UNFPA Regional Director for East and Southern Africa. “Together with partners like Shudu, we will intensify efforts to address the growing psychosocial needs and more openness about mental illness. By stepping up our support and removing the stigma surrounding mental health, especially for the youth, we can help lift the burden of trauma off the shoulders of those who have already suffered enough. Together, let’s put our young people, women and girls, first. Let us give them what they need for a sustainable future of health and well-being.”

The violence experienced by young women is undermining many of the gains already made in sustainable development.

“As a girl growing up in Ha-Masia village in the Vhembe District, I witnessed first hand some of the struggles faced by many women and young people in under-developed regions across southern Africa,” Ms. Musida said. “Violence against women and girls can and does occur everywhere. I saw it in my village, and that’s why I say, we must end it in all its forms, wherever it takes place, whether online, in the intimacy of one’s home, or as a weapon of war. Women and girls must be empowered with rights and choices, if they are to realise their full potential.”

Young people face a multitude of challenges, such as GBV, poverty, teen pregnancy, HIV, mental health and drug abuse.

“At puberty, untold numbers of girls see their prospects for a healthy, productive life fade,” said UNFPA South Africa Representative, Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi. “This thrusts them on a collision course of denied opportunities, diminished capacities, violated rights, poverty and unrealized potential. We welcome this exciting partnership with Ms. Musida, a formidable champion, who will advocate for UNFPA’s mandate areas.”

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