5 Powerful Conversations to Empower Girls
African context surrounding conversations with girls
“Women are better suited for baby-making than money-making” is a phrase the average African girl has heard one too many times. It is based on no scientific evidence, a pure myth, and yet keeps driving the decisions of many families, in the past and at present. Girls and women continue to battle these pervasive views and beliefs that limit their potential and opportunities and some of these include the belief that investing in women/girls is a waste of time; in actual fact, investing in closing the gender gap will increase GDP globally. Up to $28 trillion or 26% increase will be seen in the global annual GDP by 2025 according to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report.
Culturally, domestic chores are the basic responsibility of the female children, because of the notion that girls have been endowed with the special ability to do it. Girls are basically prototype mothers whose major responsibilities in life are to take care of their husbands and children even to the detriment of their own personal ambitions, dreams, and happiness. Empowerment, therefore, is only advisable when it can assist them in becoming responsible housekeepers. As such, female children are made to believe that they are objects of male dominance whose education must end in the household domestic affairs since they are less competent at any other thing that men and boys do.
The effects of conversations that girls are exposed to from an early age
The effect of girls being exposed to the above conversations is that they begin to see themselves as inferior to boys and many deliberately lower their ambitions so as not to be seen as competitors to men. Girls end up believing that an educated and empowered woman will dominate her husband. This belief that educated and empowered girls will look down on men negatively impacts girls’ empowerment and serves as an impediment from pursuing their goals.
Psychologically, these conversations have lifelong effects on girls. It affects their life outcomes because they tend to deliberately stick to the limits that have been placed on them leading to lower earnings, abandoned dreams, and goals and lower life satisfaction. The social impact often involves low self-esteem due to being unable to fully participate in society, their own personal decision-making, personal empowerment, and community engagement. At the end of the day, without exposure to empowering conversations from an early age, girls do not have the opportunity to fully participate in a democratic society and this affects their overall health and wellbeing and often has a lasting multigenerational impact.
Empowering conversations that should girls to be exposed to:
Girls need to be educated on access to finance, particularly those in rural areas. Access to finance is a real challenge for many African women and is a way for them to achieve their entrepreneurial goals. The conversation has to go towards telling them the kinds of businesses they can do to help themselves. Just like education, access to finance and ensuring entrepreneurship has a ripple effect. It means access to self-sufficiency, dignity, and security. The benefit extends to the community and generations to come. Studies from the World Bank show that when a mother has a source of income, the chances of her child surviving go up by up to 20% in Brazil. In Kenya also, a child will grow up to 17% taller when mothers invest more of their income in health and nutrition. These are things girls need to be told from an early age.
It is important to talk to girls about building their self-esteem and confidence and how to rise above outside influences such as media influence and peer pressure as well as pressure from family. Self-esteem is built up over time and it goes hand in hand with confidence. It is made up of thoughts, opinions, and feelings a girl has about herself and as such, it can change based on the way a girl thinks. It is important not to think negatively about one’s self regardless of circumstances because changing the way you think about yourself changes the way you feel about yourself.
To build confidence, girls have to be taught to focus on what goes well for them and not on their problems and also aim for effort and not necessarily perfection. Any mistake made is a learning opportunity. Also, girls need to try new things and give themselves credit for trying. Conversations they are exposed to need to remind them to change thoughts that make them feel inferior by not comparing themselves to others; focusing on what they do well and cheer others for their success because everyone excels at different things; recognize what can be changed and what cannot especially when it comes to flaws. Things like height, complexion, and family background cannot be changed. If it is something that can be changed, then they need to start immediately. It is important to tell them to set goals, make plans, and keep track of progress.
Career and passion driven conversations
Girls need to be exposed to conversations that let them understand that a workforce that is healthier increases prosperity across nations and a more productive economy. To achieve this, a girl needs to be empowered adequately to advocate for herself and make the decisions that affect her own life and future by herself. When a girl focuses on building a career and facing her passion no matter what that is, the potential of building a happier home is higher and this ultimately contributes to peaceful neighbourhoods despite higher economic pressures in urban centres especially. Her satisfaction with her life will also increase which will affect all members of her household, including her own daughters positively.
Self-love and self-worth conversations
Girls need to be taught how to accept compliments graciously and to not overlook the positive things people say about them. Conversations from an early age need to teach them to learn to appreciate and absorb compliments and take them seriously and also to give sincere compliments to others too as this does not in any way diminish their own self-worth. They need to love themselves first and in the right way before those around them can love them and be their own best advocate. They need to also take pride in their opinions and ideas as a girl and that someone disagreeing with them doesn’t affect their worth or intelligence.
Girls need to also make a contribution early by volunteering in their community when possible. When a girl does things that can make a difference, no matter how little, it builds her sense of self-worth and positive opinion of herself and makes her feel good. She needs to understand that her self-worth is not directly connected to her appearance and how she dresses. Instead, conversations should go towards kindness, effort, problem-solving abilities, integrity, determination, and other positive characteristics. Also, her worth isn’t built on achievements but on the effort and mental aptitude to meet set goals and she needs to love herself enough to not be in competition with other women but focusing on her own positive traits and cheering others on.
More than a wife and mother conversations
Conversations along this line need to start very early. Girls need to know that beyond motherhood and being a wife, acquiring the right skills and knowledge to find employment and as a means to support themselves and their families as the case may be. It is important to have confidence in their own abilities so as to be able to stand up to the injustices which girls face such as child marriage. Furthermore, empowered girls have the right mindset to challenge conventional norms and reshape perspectives, and to model the lives of the generations after them. This makes the life of a girl much more important and valuable than just being a wife and mother.
The role of fathers in improving the status of girls' education
Fathers, are considered to be important role models for their daughters. Together with other male relatives who are present in the life of a girl from childhood, they play a major role in determining who and what the girls are going to be once they grow up. No, were are not neglecting mothers, but girls learn a lot about life from their fathers and they play a crucial role in improving the status of girls. When a girl is taught that a woman should be treated well, respected, and taken care of in their childhood, they will start to value their worth.
It is well understood that parenting is important in the ability of children to succeed, their academic performance and their social skills. The role fathers play in their daughters’ development is a major one and the type of relationship it is significantly impacts on the type of individual the daughter becomes.
What is the role of fathers in the education of girls
Academic abilities are influenced by father-daughter bonds:
Studies and evidence has shown that girls who have attentive fathers by their side are successful in their academics. They are more likely to achieve higher grades in school than the girls with absent fathers. How does this happen? Fathers who are play an active role in the life of their daughter, will encourage her to study harder and go for higher educational achievements.
Below are certain facts proven by research about a father's influence on a daughter’s education.
A strong father-daughter bond not only affects a daughter’s self-esteem and body image, it affects how they perform academically. If fathers encourage their daughters to do well in school, give them access to tools such as those for getting academic assistance and help them when they struggle academically, daughters can be very successful academically. Girls and women with healthy relationships with their fathers performed better in school and on tests than those with an unhealthy or no relationship with their father. Girls who end up in male dominated careers and subjects also have better relationships with their fathers.
Benefits of a thriving father-daughter relationship for the girl, the family, and society
It is statistically proven that the girls who do not have caring fathers in their lives, are three times as likely to fall victims of teenage pregnancy, and substance abuse.
The Father Effect
The father effect is a phenomenon that shows up at a very young age for girls. There are numerous studies that show that children from a household with a father perform better in intelligence tests and have higher IQ test scores at age 3. higher levels of intelligence correlate with greater success, longevity and happiness. Acts as little as encouraging daughters to take challenging courses and helping with homework are linked to higher levels of sociability and fewer bahavioural problems. These girls are also less likely to become delinquent, are less aggressive and are more likely to have high-paying jobs when they are grown. If a father thinks his daughter is beautiful, smart and strong, she is more likely to see herself that way. Below are some of the benefits of a thriving father-daughter relationship.
Fathers mould the self-esteem and body image of their daughters:
The relationship between fathers and daughters affect their mental health. Researchers in a recent study (2018) discovered that young girls with good relationships with their fathers reported less loneliness and were less likely to become anxious or clinically depressed. This positive influence also extended to them being less likely to develop body dysmorphia, eating disorders or be unhappy with their body weight or appearance. fathers that are present and loving end up giving their daughters a strong sense of self and are they are often more confident in their abilities. How fathers also treat their wives and talk to their daughters also affect how their daughters view their own bodies. Daughters from an early age pick up on the way their fathers treat other women, especially their mothers and this influences their beliefs on how women deserve to be treated.
Fathers influence the social traits and behaviours of their daughters:
Studies reveal that daughters who regularly communicate with their fathers in a positive way have better communication skills with both males and females in other aspects of their lives. Starting from birth to adulthood, the type and quality of communication between a father and his daughter affects the daughter’s ability to express herself - her emotions, feelings and thoughts. Fathers who show love to their daughters and show unconditional acceptance help foster a positive sense of self. Daughters often get their courage and sense of adventure from their fathers. This can be achieved by fathers when they show their daughters that they are capable of doing a lot and then empowering them to do so.
How fathers can mould good relationships with their daughters
Begin on her day of birth: Fathers should get involved with their daughters from the start by actively caring for them as babies. This helps the relationship to grow with each passing day and milestone. Cuddle with your baby, change diapers, bathe and feed them. Research shows that starting from infancy, girls draw conclusions and develop ideas about the men in their lives.
Teach them new things: Something as little and simple as learning how to kick a ball or ride a bike are great accomplishments. A father can pass on all the things he enjoyed learning as a child to his daughter by showing her that learning is a journey of a lifetime and it is always alright to pick up a new hobby or skill. Learning something together is also a great way to connect.
Be involved: A father that is actively interested and involved in their daughter’s life is the hallmark of every great father-daughter relationship. This is more than asking about their day but about taking an interest in those things that the child finds exciting and inspiring. The key is to find out what the child is passionate about and fostering it.
Show unconditional love and validate them often: transform situations where they mess up into opportunities to teach them something by being calm, patient and loving in the process. Do not ridicule or shame them when they make a bad choice. Assure them that you still love them very much while you may be disappointed. Discuss, nutrition, exercise and the importance of sleep with them as a way to dismantle harmful stereotypes and not focusing on your daughter’s physical appearance but more on making good choices that will keep their body and mind healthy and strong.
Lastly, Be a good partner and parent: an available father that is involved and supportive creates a model for a healthy parental figure. A healthy parent-child relationship affects how parenthood is approached by the child in later life. The same applies to how a father treats their spouse or partner. They are more likely to seek out loving and positive relationships and connections with partners if that is what they have seen at home. It is therefore important for fathers to be good examples of the kind of partners they wan their daughters to end up with in future.
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Accessing Technology to improve girls’ education in Africa
In this day and age, technology is paramount to the education of young girls, especially in Africa.
Gambian girls in particular face many barriers to their education, and unfortunately, the lack of access to technology is an additional log on the metaphorical fire.
In general, technology is not widely available in Gambian schools due to lack of provision and poverty- families who cannot afford food will not prioritise technology. And even in cases where technology is available, young girls are not being given access: in sub-Saharan Africa, 45% less women have access to technology than men.
Myths Surrounding Girls Access To STEM
Furthermore, dangerous myths surround Gambian girls, propagating these issues. Some believe that females are less capable of using technology than men, and that technical positions such as STEM careers are not suitable for women at all- this is absolutely incorrect. In fact, it is antiquated myths like these that are widening the gender gap and pushing Gambian girls further behind their international and male peers.
As a result, we must work harder to ensure that these girls have every chance to thrive. They are already capable, determined and intelligent- and they have every right to achieve success.
Especially in today’s day and age, information technology is vital, and if these girls are to receive a modern education they must have the necessary equipment.
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Solution for Girls Access to Technology In Africa
Unsurprisingly, the lack of computer education is hugely limiting: it sets a huge disadvantage, barring children from a host of different career paths and a brighter future. In particular, technology gives young girls access to endless information, communication and opportunity. Yet, less than 30% of ICT professionals are female, which is shocking when you consider that the future is being constructed around computers. And implications do not just affect women- a research study found that the comprehensive adoption of ICT would have a huge impact on socio-economic development and change in many aspects of African society.
In order to fight this, we must act now. Young girls in the Gambia need access to technology in order to stand a chance, starting elementary level: and we cannot do this without our donors .
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you, or your organisation, could be of assistance in providing our girls with technology- the difference a laptop makes is astronomical to a young girl in Africa.
Finally, we would like to thank our donor Kuben videregående skole for providing some of our girls with laptops already. Kuben, like us, see education as a human right, and are helping to educate the future and lift the barriers preventing every child from receiving a vital education.
International Girls in ICT Day – 2021
What is ICT?
Information Communication Technology (ICT) is a broader term for Information Technology (IT), which refers to all communication technologies such as the internet, cell phones, computers, wireless networks, software, video conferencing, middleware, social networking and any other media application, and services that allow users to retrieve, store, transmit, access and manipulate information in the digital format. It also involves media technology convergence such as telephone and computer networks.
According to UNESCO, 7 million people work in the ICT sector but only 30% are women. Not only this, only 6% of CEOs at the top 100 global technology companies are women. Women in Europe hold only 11.2% of leadership roles in the tech world. UNESCO shows that a market of up to USD 50-70 billion will open up in the ICT sector if gender equality is achieved. This means more women and girls need to be encouraged to go into ICT.
Why should girls go into ICT?
There are numerous job opportunities in the ICTs. The sector gives room for a wide range of ICT talents due to the number of job seekers possessing the required technical skills and the digital skills needed by employers. What this means is that women who are highly qualified in technical fields have a notable number of opportunities available to them.
Furthermore, ICT companies realise that workforce diversity is good for business and as such are working to attract and promote women. The ICT sector is male-dominated, particularly at senior levels. The companies and organisations are therefore working towards increasing the number of women represented in the sector because when there are more women at the top, financial performance is positively impacted.
By going into ICT and supporting the education of women and girls in ICT, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is being supported. Particularly, SDG 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls through, among other domains ICTs. Jobs in the tech sector not only lift women out of poverty but creates a gender-balanced sector that provides more fulfilment at the mid and high level of their careers.
Importantly, technology is the language of the future. Therefore, a background in technology enables girls and women to have a role in developing the future. Technology is not restricted to engineers but cuts across various backgrounds from professions such as economics, health, philosophy and production which broadens its applicability.
Myths surrounding girls in ICT
The tech environment is not conducive or appealing to women:
While truly the tech sector isn’t as appealing to women as it should be, ICT is an exciting, well rewarded, respected career option and is highly lucrative. More women are needed in the sector to change the tech’s culture and image.
You can’t pursue a career in ICT without having a tech degree:
A lot of digital career options do not require a STEM degree. Many companies just generally look out for people who genuinely want to succeed, have a desire to learn, and possess transferable skills. This means that online courses or a coding club can make a whole world of difference in starting a career in ICT.
There’s no career progression so you’ll likely be stuck with writing codes:
Working in ICT doesn’t always equate to working for a tech company. Every sector incorporates technology in all aspects of business today which means there are wide roles and numerous opportunities.
You can't have a family life, social life and balance a successful tech career:
The truth is that every career requires compromise and finding a suitable work/life balance meaning that a career in ICT isn’t different. With good time management skills, positive mindset, and determination, the right balance will be created.
How to encourage girls to go into ICT
1. Girls can be encouraged to go into ICT by creating events and seminars that are specifically designed to inspire girls to pursue their dream of becoming an ICT professional and encourage careers in ICT fields. This involves a fusion of classroom learning, hands-on experience, and interactions with females in the ICT sector to assure girls of the opportunities inherent in the sector.
2. Teachers also need to take girls on a journey through the digital world from Word to Excel to coding and so on so they can know about the vastness of the sector. This will assure girls that they will not be confined. Furthermore, the use of contexts that can be found in the real world should be encouraged. This means getting girls’ hands-on things that can be replicated in real life such as creating films, creating vlogs, and so on.
3. Another way to encourage girls to go into ICT is to create school clubs in societies that are designed to encourage girls to engage actively in IT. It also allows them to develop their tech skills by partaking in challenges specifically tailored to their interests such as sports, dance, and music. This will have an impact on their confidence and self-esteem.
4. Lastly, ICT education needs to be started early. This means starting from elementary school and putting other noted factors in place to sustain interest into adulthood.
See Mansata Kurang an award winning Gambian woman in Tech
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Inequality of Women and Girls in Science
All over the world, less than 30% of researchers in the science field are women. This shows that there is still a gross underrepresentation of female students and employees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related fields (UNESCO, 2019). Less than a third of female students go on to study higher education courses in science subjects like engineering and maths. Furthermore, women in STEM fields publish less than their male counterparts and often receive less pay see weforum.org, 2020.
Women and Girls in Science - Saharan Africa
A UNESCO report estimates that In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 30% of researchers are women with a gender disparity very clear in disciplines such as mathematics, engineering, and computer science. These women are not only paid less, they do not progress well in their careers as much as their male counterparts. Low-income countries tend to have the lowest ratios of women to men as researchers in the science field. The percentage for some African countries are South Africa 43.7%; Egypt 42.8%; Morocco 30.2%; Senegal 24.9%; Nigeria 23.3%; Rwanda 21.8%, Cameroon 21.8%, Ethiopia 31.3%, Sub-Saharan Africa 31.3%.
Gender Biases Discouraging Women and Girls from Science
The impediments women and girls face range from social and environmental factors, negative attitudes towards STEM, bias, and discrimination to low self-assessment of girls. There are persistent stereotypes within schools and families that boys are better than girls at science and mathematics and can succeed more in science-based jobs. It is also believed that women cannot benefit from the heavily male-dominated STEM careers and it is not suitable for them as it is not family-friendly. Furthermore, some cultures believe that investing in girls’ education is not as important as that of boys. These all discourage many women and girls from science and it needs to be properly addressed to secure the future of women in science.
How to Gain Equal Access and Participation for Women and Girls in Science
Gaining full and equal access and participation for women and girls in science is a long and multifaceted process.
Opportunities in Science for Women and Girls
It is projected that in the US alone, over 50% of new job growth in the next couple of years will require science and technology degrees. While women and girls have found it difficult to break into many STEM fields in the past, there are lots of self-evident reasons to pursue opportunities in science. Obtaining a degree in science or STEM strongly indicates financial success. The starting and mid-level salaries for STEM careers are higher than non-science jobs.
Moving away from the issue of financial gain and job security, science-related fields need women as the majority of people in this field are men. This means that the area is lacking the unique perspective, experience, and creativity of the other half of the population.
How to Break the Barriers and Overcoming Challenges in Pursuing a Career in Science
Other than being determined in the face of daunting challenges and obstacles:
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Breaking the myths of girl child education and highlighting the facts
A UNESCO (2017) report suggests that 264 million children of primary and secondary school age are out of school. Worldwide, an estimated 100 million young people are illiterate. Out of this number, the greater percentage are girls who are at an even higher risk of missing out on education due to persistent myths and misconceptions surrounding their education. Some of them are:
Myth 1 - Boys are better at understanding technology than girls
In reality, technology is a part of the world we live in and a major aspect of the future. The ability to learn to use technology is present in both genders. What is true is that in some cases, girls have less access to technology than boys do as is true of all education and this has to change.
Myth 2 - Boys are better in school and education than girls
The truth is that boys are girls perform the same when they are not exposed to barriers to access. Barriers to access are gendered and pervasive as well as rooted deeply in the economy and society. They include low attendance rate for girls, gender-based violence, and lack of funding and early marriage.
Myth 3 - There is no gender bias from teachers
Science and math teachers are not biased toward their male students: in reality, biases are persistent and teachers tend to interact more with boys than girls in science and maths and any other subject deemed technical. For example, a teacher will often explain to a boy how to perform an experiment but do the experiment for a girl if she asks for assistance.
Myth 4 - The STEM field is not for the female gender
When it comes to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, some people believe that women are just born at a disadvantage. While gender differences are visible on standardised tests, this does not make them innate. This is because, for instance, countries with larger gaps in gender equality also exhibit larger gaps in math performance by gender compared to more equal nations that show the issue is related to systematic conditioning.
Myth 5 - Education becomes useless once a girl is married
it is believed that a girl ends her education in her husband’s kitchen whereas, in reality, an educated girl remains an asset to her community regardless of marital status as she can earn more, has better outcomes as a mother and is less likely to experience domestic violence. She is also more empowered on all levels.
Why do these myths persist in societies?
Societies hold these myths many times due to a combination of factors that range from a lack of education and awareness, a need to hold on to patriarchy, resistance to change and a love of tradition. Girls are expected to take care of their siblings, perform domestic duties and many times, bring the family out of poverty through early and arranged marriage.
Many people in rural societies especially are resistant to change due to widespread misconceptions regarding girls’ education and a preference for the family hierarchy or structure, which they are used to for generations. It is believed for example that an educated girl will become haughty, promiscuous and difficult to control. In reality, these qualities are not specific to educated girls and have little to do with formal education.
What are the implications for girls’ education?
Education is not seen as a priority in a lot of cases and the issues that discourage girls education are still not tackled properly at all levels in many areas.
How to break the myths?
Breaking the myths involves a multi-layered approach involving the government, teachers, influencers in the community and parents.
1. Parental support as well as support from teachers have proven to be beneficial in creating interest in education for girls and improving attendance, particularly in STEM subjects.
2. Teachers need to be deliberate about taking steps to involve female students, as this is beneficial to everyone.
3. On the government level, there needs to be proper and better investment in education so that girls can be encouraged to get to school. An example is by building separate toilets for girls and providing free regular sanitary products. More women also need to be encouraged to take up public positions and go into decision making so they can mentor the next generation of female leaders.
4. Lastly, influencers in the community such as community leaders should be educated on certain key issues affecting girls’ education, encouraged to put an end to harmful practices such as early marriage, and forced domestication.
Ending Gender-Based Violence
What Is Violence Against Women?
Violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
It is rooted in the gender inequality that women face throughout their lives from childhood through to their old age. Violence against women comes in many forms; physical, emotional, verbal, and many more. It can come through different channels including intimate partner violence, workplace violence, sexual violence, family, and even societal violence.
Gender inequality and norms play a big role in the acceptability of violence against women and are a root cause of violence against women.
Why Is Violence Against Women Prevalent?
There are various risk factors that contribute to the prevalence of violence against women, such as:
How To Eliminate Gender-Based Violence From National And International Levels
Violence against women and girls is rooted in gender-based discrimination, social norms that accept violence, and gender stereotypes that continue those cycles of violence. To date, efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls have mainly focused on responding to and providing services to survivors of violence. However, prevention which addresses the structural causes, as well as the risk and protective factors associated with violence is pivotal to eliminating violence against women and girls completely.
Prevention is the only way to stop violence before it even occurs. It requires political commitment, implementing laws that promote gender equality, investing in women’s organisations, and addressing the multiple forms of discrimination women face daily.
Other ways to eliminate violence against women includes the following:
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International Day of The Girl Child 2020
My Voice, Our Equal Future
It is a known fact that girls are experts on their own needs and unique realities and all they need is the right support made up of opportunities and skills to make their voices heard. Without this, it is impossible to know exactly what a girl believes is best for her immediate and near future. This is why it is important to give girls a voice and to listen to her when she speaks.
Why The Voices Of Girls Matter?
The voices of girls matter because by giving a girl a voice, she can express herself and limits are removed. There is more participation in decision making about her life; her choices are broadened and ultimately, the quality of education and enlightenment improves. When a girl has a voice, she can make changes in her community; lead, challenge, push boundaries and improve the lives of those around her by inspiring them.
What It Means For Girls To Have A Voice?
Giving girls a voice includes empowering girls and women such that they can participate in decision making at private and public levels and access to resources are no longer one sided (in favour of the male gender) so that both genders become equal participants in leading a productive and reproductive life. When she talks, the world listens.
How Education Can Give Girls A voice?
Every child can reach their full potential through access to education. Without education, girls are exposed and vulnerable and cannot learn how to actualise their ideas and dreams. Education therefore provides the foundation upon which boundless opportunities for future generations of women is built.
Education gives girls a voice because education is key to addressing poverty and fighting disease. An educated woman is an empowered woman that can use her voice to effectively contribute to society, the economy and transforms her family and community through her choices. Being in school makes a girl aware of her rights and improves her own health which in turn affects her family positively.
Education also gives girls the confidence to speak up and increases the probability of them being heard. By giving women and girls a voice, they can join the campaign for equality.
In order to support girls' education, it is important to go beyond providing learning opportunities, it requires keeping girls safe and protecting them from all forms of violence within and outside their places of learning.
Importance Of Our Equal Future
An equal future is one in which there is gender equality. Gender equality goes beyond being a fundamental human right, it is the bedrock of a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. In an ideal world, gender equality should be the norm. Reducing inequality makes economies stronger and builds societies that are stable and resilient allowing everyone equal opportunity to fulfil their potential.
An equal future is one where girls and boys enjoy socially valued goods, opportunities and resources and rewards the same way. It does not mean that men and women become the same; it just means that access to opportunities does not depend on gender.
An equal future by giving girls a voice is linked to the realisation of basic human rights for all. It is a future in which girls and boys enjoy the same opportunities, obligations and rights in all areas of life.
There is equal distribution of power and influence and equal opportunity for financial independence through work or business. Both genders enjoy equal access to education and the chance to build up on their personal talents, interests and ambitions; share responsibility for the children and the home and are free from gender-based violence both at home and at work. Lastly, both genders are completely free from coercion and intimidation in an equal future.
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Impact of Covid-19 on Girls' Education and Violence Against Women
How Covid-19 is affecting the education and safety of girls in The Gambia and Africa
The spread of COVID-19 across Africa has had profound impacts on women and girls as they are particularly vulnerable to the overwhelming effects of the pandemic. As such, it is important for African governments to pay special attention to them as a way to protect them from the ripple effects of the pandemic.
The lockdown and its effects have led to reduced access to health services for women and girls in Africa. With most efforts and resources focused on containing the spread of COVID-19, essential services such as access to sexual and reproductive health services have been affected. Rates of delivery in health centres have also dropped significantly.
Since informal workers made up majorly of women make up more than 90% of the labour force in Sub-Saharan Africa, these jobs have been affected the most during the pandemic. This means that the ability to make money affected women more than men due to the complete or partial closure of borders by governments. Having both children and husbands at home all (or most) of the time means that women and girls spend even more time in domestic work and unpaid care. This includes women in corporate structures as well. Women and girls are expected to care for the elderly, the sick and other members of their households while most often providing income for the family as well. This places an unfair burden on them.
Covid-19 impact on violence against women and girls in Africa
Women and girls are also at a higher risk of gender-based violence even more so now. Reports of violence against women and girls particularly domestic violence are on the rise in several countries according to a recent study by UN women due to financial worries, security and health worries creating tensions pronounced by confined and uncomfortable living conditions of lockdown. Furthermore, 44% of women across Africa are victims of intimate partner violence with figures climbing higher during the imposed lockdown. In South Africa for example, a 37% increase in gender-based violence was reported during the first week of lockdown. One helpline in Zimbabwe noted that the number of abuse cases tripled.
The increase in gender-based violence is not only towards adult women but also targeted at young girls with perpetrators being mostly those close to the victim. In Nigeria, there has been an increase in rape and gender-based violence with more than 700 rape incidents reported across the country in the period of January-May with abuse cases against women and children 3 times higher during the lockdown.
Not only this, the closure of schools across the continent posts a grim reality that many girls will never go back to school since a whopping 40% of girls in Sub-Saharan African marry before the age of 18; with parents being unable to make as much money as they are used to, marrying girls off (selling their daughters) will reduce the number of mouths to feed in the household. This means that young women and girls in Africa are particularly vulnerable to the secondary effects of the pandemic as a result of deep-seated harmful social and gender norms and intricate types of discrimination based on their age, gender and other exclusion criteria. There is also an increase in the exposure of girls to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) as well as Child Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) due to the pandemic.
African governments and society's responsibility to protect women and girl during this pandemic
African governments, therefore, have to urgently address both the direct and secondary effects of the pandemic on women and girls by protecting the progress made in the empowerment and protection of girls particularly in the last decade.
Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic must include a gender-based approach to the provision and guarantee of human rights including basic rights such as access to food and water, shelter and access to essential sexual and reproductive health services.
There must be special palliatives targeted at girls and ongoing welfare services regardless of the pandemic such that women and girls can seek refuge when needed and get tailor-made responses to their unique and collective circumstances.
See our social media pages to find out more about the day-to-day operations of the work we do in educating girls in The Gambia
Sponsoring Child Education In The Gambia
What is Child Sponsorship?
Child sponsorship is a type of fundraising effort in which a child beneficiary is linked to a donor sponsor through the aid of a charitable organisation. In certain situations, the donated funds go to a lot of uses including health, security and infrastructure in the child’s community while in other cases, the funds are only used for the purpose of education whereby the child will be provided with equipment, books and uniform to help with their education.
Recent research, however, has shown that children do better in their education and other areas when their family and community are thriving around them hence the reason why child sponsorship programs now deal with issues of sustainability such as the provision of clean water, income generation schemes, health care and education centres in areas without schools. (For more information, visit Actionaid
Why sponsor a child to go to school?
Sponsoring a child affords you the opportunity to contribute your quota to helping individuals and communities in need. Every little helps when it comes to child sponsorship and you can even learn about a distant culture and community as a bonus, right from your location.
How to empower a girl child through education
Care.org notes that an educated girl is more likely to delay marriage and childbirth enjoy greater income and productivity and raise fewer, healthier and better-educated children. Empowering a girl child through education can be achieved in a variety of ways. One of which is to make schools for girls safe and their environment conducive. Education truly empowers the girl child. Evidence suggests that women and girls who have access to education and have skills in their arsenal to be independent economically are empowered to live healthier and more productive lives.
Empowerment is the process of gaining confidence and strength particularly in exercising control over one’s life and claiming one’s rights. Girls today become women tomorrow and for them to be empowered, inequality and gender gaps have to reduce. Gender bias, culturally imbibed malpractices, child marriage, poor health and sanitation are among the negative issues being faced by girls. Lack of education, however, remains the biggest problem of them all.
In order for these problems to be solved, there needs to be identified by the victims first. A lack of education prevents this from happening. Without girls knowing their rights, they cannot accomplish their dreams. This is why girls should be empowered through education.
At the SaGG Foundation, you can sponsor a girl from £10 a month to enable a girl to gain access to education in The Gambia. This will enable her to build a future for herself and her family. You can also make a donation towards the provision of educational supplies such as books, bags, uniforms and stationary for girls in The Gambia.
What you get for sponsoring a child through education?
The greatest gain you can have for sponsoring a child through education is a sense of giving hope. Your sponsorship makes a difference in the lives of children surely but a child knowing that irrespective of their unique circumstances, someone cares enough about them to sponsor their education is priceless and makes a huge difference in the life of that child.
In some cases, you can get to have a life long relationship with the child you are sponsoring through regular correspondence with the child and receive updates on how the child's schooling and welfare. Sponsoring a child through education allows you to know that you are helping communities to grow and become self-sustaining.
The SaGG Foundation (Sponsor a Gambian Girl) is a girl’s education movement, with aim of championing the cause for girl child education in The Gambia. Education is a basic human right; our vision is to advocate and pair up girls with sponsors.
100% of your sponsorship goes to the girl's education.
See here how we do it.