International Day of the Girl: Keeping Girls in School

Literacy among youth
International Day of the Girl
International Day of the Girl (Illustration by Benson Wathugi)

International Day of the Girl has been observed on 11 October since 2012. This day highlights and addresses the needs and challenges girls face while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. the 2018 theme is ‘With Her: A Skilled GirlForce’. Hence our highlight of organizations that do great things to keep girls in school.

Educating a girl means that as a woman, she is empowered and more likely to participate in development efforts and in political and economic decision-making. Before we look at organizations contributing to girls’ education, let’s look at the statistics on girl child education in Africa.

According to UNICEF, Girls’ enrolment to secondary school remains lower than that of boys, with a Gender Parity Index (GPI) of 0.97. The gap is significant in countries such as Angola(22% for boys:20% for girls), Eritrea (30%:20%), Ethiopia (30%:23%), Malawi (25%:23%), Somalia (9%:5%), and Zambia (38%/35%).

Today’s generation girl is preparing to enter a marketplace that is being transformed by innovation and automation. Educated and skilled workers are in great demand. Roughly a quarter of young people – most of them female – are currently neither employed or in education or training.

Poverty remains the main factor undermining girls’ right to education. School fees and additional costs such as transport, clothing, and books reinforce the gender skills gap. When poor families cannot afford to educate all their children, it is often their daughters who have to stay home until they get married. This is why we highlight the following organizations contributing to girl child education on this International Day of the Girl.

Plan International

Child marriage is a violation of girls’ fundamental human rights to health, education and a life free from abuse. The practice robs girls of their opportunity to realize their full potential. Plan International runs different programs globally, fighting child marriage, hence enabling more girls to stay in school.

Shofco Kibera School For Girls

Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) is a grassroots movement that catalyzes large-scale transformation in urban slums by providing critical services for all, community advocacy platforms, and education and leadership development for women and girls. Started in 2004 by Kenedy Odede and Jessica Posner Odede, they run the Kibera School for Girls, among several development projects in urban slums. SHOFCO recently received the 2018 Hilton Humanitarian Award.

Akili Dada

Akili Dada provides high school scholarships to girls aged 13-19 years and seed funding for social change initiatives led by young women aged 18-35 years. They provide leadership development, mentorship, and skills development for young women and girls.

Zana Africa

ZanaAfrica Foundation supports adolescent girls in Kenya to stay in school by delivering reproductive health education and sanitary pads.  Lack of Menstrual hygiene products has been directly linked to a high risk of sexual activity at a young age. In fact, 10% of all transactional sex among adolescent girls in Kenya is for sanitary pads. Two in three girls in Kenya lack access to sanitary pads and reproductive health education and 60% of the girls drop out of secondary school. Their social impact business arm, Zana Africa Group manufactures and distributes the low-cost Nia sanitary pads to ensure girls stay in school.

WUSC

World University Service of Canada (WUSC), along with Windle Trust Kenya (WTK), is running a program to help marginalized girls and boys in northern Kenya. They are improving the access to and quality of education in four target communities; the Dadaab refugee camps and surrounding host communities of Fafi, Waji South and Dadaab, and the Kakuma refugee camps and their surrounding host communities in Turkana West. WUSC is building girl-friendly school environments; providing targeted support to female learners; and parent and community support for girls’ education.

Eneza Education

Eneza Education provides quality education through simple mobile phones. They have partnered with organizations that provide education to girls. Their SMS/USSD Mobile Learning platform, Shupavu291, is easily accessible because of its simplicity. Reaching over 5 Million learners in three countries; Kenya, Ghana and Ivory Coast. They won the Best Mobile Innovation for Education at this year’s Global Mobile Awards.

This article is an edited cross-post from Eneza Education.

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