TOPIC: EDUCATION|INTRODUCTION by GARY GOLDMAN
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, education is a realistic antipoverty tool. In the short-term, it provides a safe space by nurturing creativity and teaching children social norms. Eventually, it encourages innovation and facilitates a bottoms-up approach to development. Justine, from Kenya, was able to finish her education and gain a true sense of self-worth and eventually create her own female empowerment project. If the stories told in partnership with the Girl Effect for the past week have taught us anything, it’s that adolescent girls from some of the world’s poorest neighborhoods are absolutely not to be pitied. They are remarkably strong women-in-the-making who, with the right tools (a safe space, some initial capital…), are able to change a village’s perspective and even support their entire families. After reading Justine’s story, discover how each of the Millennium Development Goals (the United Nations’ effort to get rid of some of the world’s largest problems) can be solved by investing in, you guessed it, a girl!
When things started going the wrong way…
at home, and money was no longer available to pay for school fees, Justine had to drop out. But she was the only one who had to; her brother was allowed to continue, despite the fact that she was older than he was. If she wanted to go to school, she had to wait for him to finish first. In the beginning she missed school, but then decided she could do without it. She rolled up her sleeves and started looking for a job, but gaining access to the best opportunities sometimes required lying about her age and her schooling. And even when she got the job, it always came back to having a certificate.
When Justine found Fortress for Hope Africa…
she had an opportunity to go back to school – and immediately remembered why she liked it so much. It’s no wonder that she says the happiest day of her life is when she finished school; it’s what she is most proud of, as well. She is now considering studying law, but she is well aware that will take several years of hard studying.
Being part of FOHA…
has changed Justine, and she is eager to share what she’s learned with others.
“IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ATTITUDE. NOW I TRUST MYSELF: I CAN STAND IN FRONT OF PEOPLE, SPEAK, ANSWER QUESTIONS. AND I CAN SAY NO. OTHER GIRLS DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT IS WRONG, WHY IT’S BETTER NOT TO DO CERTAIN THINGS, THAT THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES…”
Justine started a project of her own…
with a few friends, called Ground Breakers (GB) Crew. The group provides an opportunity for girls to explore their talents, earn a living, and participate in community through the arts: girls dance as a way of expressing themselves and for fundraising for school fees. Last year, GB Crew qualified to participate in a TV program on the Citizen TV channel called SAKATA Season 2 and, more recently, they were selected to feature in Nokia’s latest ads on national billboards.
Today, she is a role model…
for many other girls. It makes her feel important.
“TODAY, I AM ABLE TO CHANGE A LIFE… I AM A MOTIVATION TO OTHER GIRLS. AND THIS MOTIVATES ME TO BE A BETTER PERSON AS WELL.”
Her role model? Her mother.
“SHE SUPPORTED ME. SHE’S A HARD WORKER AND THAT HAS ALWAYS INSPIRED ME. I WILL SHOW MY OWN SONS AND DAUGHTERS THAT THEY ARE ALL IMPORTANT — IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU ARE A BOY OR A GIRL.”
As to the world…
her only request is to help her stress the importance of education to help ensure girls can go to school and complete their education.
Adolescent Girls: The Key to Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
The world is missing out on a tremendous opportunity for change.
· When girls’ lives are limited, everyone loses.
· If she has resources to tap into, she becomes a powerful agent of change.
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
· By reaching adolescent girls, the mother of every child that will be born into poverty, we address population growth that drives poverty.
· When the first born child is born to a young mother (12 to 20 years old), the child is at a greater risk for being stunted, being underweight, and suffering from anemia.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
· The single biggest determinant of the number of children a woman bears? The amount of education she receives as a girl.
· When a girl becomes pregnant, she is more likely to be pulled out of school.
· 70% of out-of-school children are girls.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
· This fresh new approach is the actualization of MDG 3 and gets to women before they grow into women which maximizes the impact of our investments in them
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
· Babies of young mothers are at greater risk. In particular, stillbirth and death are 50% more likely for babies with mothers under age 20 than those with mothers 20 to 29 years old.
· When the first born child is born to a young mother (12 to 20 years old), the child is at a greater risk of dying before the age of five, being stunted, being underweight, and suffering from anemia.
· Malnourished girls have low-birthweight babies—a risk factor in 70% of neonatal deaths.
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
· One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries give birth before age 18. It is their leading cause of death.
· Young women’s unmet need for contraception is double that for older women.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
· In Sub-Saharan Africa, 75% of 15-to-24 year-olds living with HIV are girls. They’re contracting it from older men.
· Access to modern family planning not only allows girls to have the number of children they want when they choose, but also addresses HIV prevention.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
· Current growth rates cannot be sustained by current resources.
· Delaying childbirth slows population growth, climate change, and demand on natural resources, and also drastically improves outcomes for the girl and children she has in the future.
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
· To achieve MDG5 A&B, we need to ensure a major coordinated effort, with an emphasis on contraception for adolescents and access to health services for adolescent girl mothers.
· Working to achieve this would necessitate activation of MDG 8 at a new level not seen before.
· The numbers are clear: a global funding mechanism for family planning would reduce maternal mortality by 70%, avert 44% of newborn deaths, reduce unsafe abortions by over 70% and further contribute to curb the pandemics that now place women and girls at greatest risk.