Women's Education in Uganda
Gender inequality remains a significant issue in Uganda. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these inequalities, significantly affecting women’s education in Uganda. Even before the pandemic, Uganda saw disparities in male and female literacy rates. According to the World Bank, in 2018, the adult male literacy rate stood at 83% in comparison to 71% among adult females.

Gender Inequality in Uganda

There are about 45.7 million people living in Uganda and 51.71% are female. For the past 20 years, Uganda has committed to a more gender-equal society by promoting women’s empowerment. A series of factors contribute to the marginalization of Ugandan women, including gender norms and lack of skills development and education among females. By improving women’s education in Uganda, organizations can reduce gender inequalities while empowering women and helping them to rise out of poverty.

Education in Uganda

World Bank data indicates that only 54% of primary school-aged girls in Uganda completed primary education in 2017. In 2016, only 57% of females who completed primary school moved on to secondary education. Furthermore, only 25% of females completed lower secondary school in 2017.

Rampant gender inequality in Ugandan society limits the education of girls. Families prioritize the education of boys and girls shoulder the burden of household chores and caretaking, leaving little time for education. Although this issue has lingered for many years, organizations are committed to promoting women’s education in Uganda and advancing women’s rights.

Spreading Sunshine

The Borgen Project spoke with Patricia Stivala, co-founder of an organization called Spreading Sunshine. Patricia and her husband Steve Stivala founded the small organization as a means of bringing light into the lives of disadvantaged people. Part of the organization’s efforts includes supporting the Street Business School in Nakigalala, Uganda. The Street Business School empowers impoverished women by allowing women opportunities to develop their business skills and education so that they can establish small businesses.

Spreading Sunshine donated money to the Street Business School to allow more than 100 women to go through a six-month training program to start their own businesses. Patricia attended the graduation ceremony of these women. From spending time in a large group to enjoying lunch together, she was able to celebrate these women’s successes. She went on to mention the pride and joy these women felt after rising above the societal limitations placed on females.

Other Efforts

Many other efforts are underway to promote girls’ education. The U.N. explains that “Education Plus is an advocacy drive to accelerate actions to prevent HIV and [gender-based violence] with access to secondary school education for girls as a strategic entry point.” Five U.N. agencies are co-leading the Education Plus initiative, working with the leaders of nations across sub-Saharan Africa. The Ugandan government launched the initiative in Uganda in June 2022, showing its commitment to advancing women’s education in Uganda.

In August 2022, the Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS) organization launched the #everygirlinschool campaign. Through this campaign, female mentors work to tackle the limitations preventing women’s education in Uganda. By working with the Ugandan government, the organization hopes to strengthen the roles of senior women teachers in the country. An external assessment proves the positive impact senior women teachers have had on the education of young girls. According to statistics, “engaging with senior women teachers increased a girl’s chance of developing reading and writing skills by 264%,” UKFIET says.

The Ugandan Government’s Efforts

Not only is the Ugandan government working with other organizations that strive to promote women’s education and rights but it also launched a new policy of its own in February 2022. The policy encourages previously pregnant girls to return to school to complete their education. As a result, Margaret Babirye (a 17-year-old Ugandan citizen) is able to tend to her baby during her school lunch break. This is an opportunity Babirye never thought she would have prior to the release of this new policy.

In February 2022, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recognized Uganda’s considerable improvements in both women’s education and human rights. Improvements such as “gender-sensitive educational infrastructure” and strategic laws have led to significant progress.

In August 2022, U.N. Women collaborated with Sweden to launch the Promoting Second Chance Education Program for marginalized young women in Uganda. This initiative provides young women with a six-month course in electrical installation. Atemi Salami, a participant in this program, tells the U.N. that the program has allowed her to obtain a job at an electrical store where she earns a living to support her family.

Looking Ahead

Many efforts are underway to promote women’s education in Uganda. With ongoing commitments, organizations and the government can make strides in reducing gender inequality and empowering women.

– Madison Stivala
Photo: Flickr

Women in Guatemala
Educational programs could support women in Guatemala struggling in multidimensional poverty by enhancing their knowledge, supporting health needs and creating more possibilities for economic growth. Closing the gender gap by giving women the opportunity to work and develop their education can support productivity and economic growth over generations in any and all countries. As Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted, “Women are the most underutilized economic asset in the world’s economy.”

Guatemala’s Economy

Guatemala is a Central American country with a population of 17 million people and a GDP of $77.6 billion. According to the World Bank, it is the region’s leading economy. Yet despite these figures, poverty persists with Indigenous people experiencing a poverty rate of 79%.

There are nearly 4 million Indigenous women in Guatemala, however, the U.N. Women statistics show that only one in 10 Indigenous women works in the formal economy as many are unable to access educational opportunities. In rural areas where agriculture is the main source of work, reports show that women own only 7.8% of the land and also receive lower payment rates. If Indigenous women receive pay, their employers normally pay them 19% less than non-Indigenous women, according to the U.N. Women.

Native women are also the least likely to have literacy skills as 66.7% have the ability to read and write in comparison to 78% of non-Indigenous women and 78% of Indigenous men, the U.N. Women reported.

Casa Pa’nibal

The Borgen Project spoke with a Casa Pa’nibal’s volunteer Rodrigo Figueroa to learn more about efforts to help Indigenous women in Guatemala. Casa Pa’nibal is a small community center foundation just outside Antigua, one of Guatemala’s main cities. It began its work in 2014 as a foundation to support the education of Native women and girls within the country.

Figueroa stated that “the balance between men and women is complicated and many women leave school early due to other demands. We work with all Guatemalan women but a lot are from indigenous groups.”

The foundation has recently taken steps to focus on scholarships and further education. Figueroa expressed, “We want to focus more on their education programs so that we can help the women we support to get out of the situations that they are in and help their children too.”

In addition to Casa Pa’nibal, there are many small charities in Guatemala focusing on this line of work including such organizations as the Friendship Bridge, offering women a chance to gain microfinance, education and health services.

UNESCO Malala Fund

UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education originated in 2012 to support girls and women in countries of conflict and disaster to have access to safe learning environments and better educational opportunities. In 2018, UNESCO came together with the Ministry of Education in Guatemala to open two UNESCO Malala centers in Guatemala. The aim of the centers has been to strengthen the education of women in Guatemala and provide tailor-made opportunities that are also gender-sensitive.

The UNESCO Malala Fund has reported helping more than 500 Indigenous women so far. It believes the project could have larger long-term effects by reaching more than 650,000 Indigenous women and 1 million female students.

There is clear evidence of the inequality between men and women in Guatemala in relation to education and economic opportunity, however, the country has been developing many projects both small and large to support these native women out of multidimensional poverty.

Through educational opportunities and micro-funding, the country could begin to close the gender and poverty gap supporting economic growth for these native women and the country as a whole.

– Amy Sergeant
Photo: Flickr

The Milaan Foundation
According to the World Bank, the latest official estimates from 2011 indicated that almost 22% of India’s population lived below the national poverty line. The demographic most vulnerable to poverty is the 120 million adolescent girls in India who are more likely to discontinue their education at a young age and face child marriages. The Milaan Foundation in India recognizes these hardships and helps young girls secure their futures in education and outside of child marriages.

Issues Young Indian Girls Face

Women suffer discrimination and gender-based violence at notable rates in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, “every hour, at least two women are sexually assaulted and every six hours, a young married woman is beaten to death, burnt or driven to suicide.”

The results of this discrimination have led to deteriorating mental health, high poverty rates and isolation. These gender-based issues start at a young age and are costly for a young girl’s education. According to UNICEF, about 43% of Indian girls have discontinued their secondary education early due to an array of reasons, with child marriage having a significant influence.

India has a significant number of child brides, with about 1.5 million Indian girls committing to marry before the age of 18. Of these girls, 7% are under the age of 15. These child brides lack the maturity and development to handle marital duties, yet their parents see no alternatives, often because marrying off daughters eases the economic burden on the family.

While child marriages appear to be the route toward security and stability, many girls end up enduring early pregnancies. Nearly 14% of adolescent Indian girls in both rural and urban areas have begun childbearing. These pregnant girls’ lives and health are at risk because young mothers are more susceptible to maternal mortality and complications during childbirth.

The Milaan Foundation in India

The Milaan Foundation in India originated in 2007 to aid impoverished girls between the ages of 12-18 regardless of religion, color or caste system. The organization prides itself on having a diverse team with 60% of its board members and 90% of its team members being women from all walks of life.

Partnering with more than 40 organizations and donors, the organization focuses on four goals: continuation of secondary education for girls, prevention of child marriages, prevention of gender-based violence and adolescent health. Overall, the Foundation has impacted more than 40,000 adolescents in four different Indian states.

The Milaan Foundation and Education

The Milaan Foundation consistently encourages girls to continue their secondary education through its Swarachna School. The school is purposely placed in the Sitapur district as 84% of the district’s population lives in poverty. The school currently educates 350 children, all with a passing rate of 100% in 12th-grade board examination classes. The 12th-grade board examinations, also known as the SSC, are crucial for students in India looking to reach higher education and apply to universities.

The Milaan Foundation’s Girl Icon Program

The largest program funded by the Milaan Foundation is its Girl Icon Program. Founded in 2015, the Girl Icon Program is a girl-led leadership program that encourages Indian girls to speak out, spread awareness of gender-based issues, diversify their skillsets and become independent. Indian girls who pass through the program are called Girl Icons with duties to inspire and evoke change.

For example, Kushboo Rasheed, a 2015 Girl Icon, went out into her neighborhood and coaxed parents who doubted the value of education to send their children to school. In the end, she recruited 20 kids to attend school and also tutored these children in her spare time to ensure that they did not fall behind. Rasheed shows the program’s domino effect: Girl Icons learn, they thrive, then, they recruit more Girl Icons who do the same.

So far, the program has implemented 953 social action projects and impacted more than 10,000 adolescent girls, 375 of whom have become Girl Icons. In 2021, all of the Girl Icons continued their secondary education and 80% looked to pursue higher education. As a result, 95% of girls delayed early marriage due to educational ambitions.

The Milaan Foundation and the Pandemic

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, 10 million Indian girls dropped out of secondary school. Despite the pandemic, The Milaan Foundation in India continued its Girl Icon Program, moving its classroom online from January 2021 to March 2021. The Girl Icon Program Virtual Leadership Training proved to be a great success as it reached 5,000 adolescent girls and awarded 201 education scholarships to its girl leaders to support their upcoming projects.

Outside of the Girl Icon Program, the Milaan Foundation has also provided medical resources across India. As the second deadly wave of the pandemic hit India in January 2021, the Milaan Foundation delivered more than 26,000 medicine kits and 39,000 medical consumables to those in need.

Future Visions

By 2030, the Milaan Foundation hopes to impact more than 10 million Indian girls and raise a new generation of girl leaders who leave the world better than they found it. The Foundation also plans on continuing to recruit more children for its Swarachna School and aims to host another Girl Icon Leadership Summit in late 2022.

– Blanly Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr

OneProsper International
With the pressing global issue of world poverty, one can find hope for meaningful change in the work done by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). One particular NGO making its mark in the fight against poverty is OneProsper International, a Canadian-based organization working toward solving poverty and improving rates of illiteracy among females in India, particularly in the impoverished Thar Desert. Here is how OneProsper International is working to reduce poverty in the Thar Desert.

OneProsper International’s Founding

In 2019, 20.8% of India’s population lived below the poverty line. Taking the headcount ratio of poverty into account, one can note that India has made great strides in reducing this ratio since 1973 when poverty stood at 54.9%. Despite progress, this rate of poverty is still notably high. With hundreds of millions of people still living in poverty, OneProsper saw a chance for meaningful change.

Founder Raju Agarwal from Ottawa, Canada, first came up with the idea to start OneProsper International on a trip to India where he was able to observe the extreme poverty and education problems firsthand. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Agarwal described a visit to India in his early 20s. He said that “a girl approached me holding a baby. I asked the girl why she was not going to school. She answered that she would love to go to school but did not have the opportunity.” Agarwal was moved.

Unsatisfied by several unfulfilling jobs at companies, some years ago he came across the book “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood. Drawing inspiration from the book, he saw a clear path and purpose, subsequently taking action to begin the nonprofit now known as OneProsper International.

The Importance of Girls’ Education

Since this initial experience, Agarwal has grown OneProsper into a meaningful and thriving organization that now works to reduce poverty in India with a special focus on promoting education for girls. Agarwal recognizes the importance of education as a tool to break the cycle of poverty. Through education, girls are able to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to access stable and higher-paying, skilled jobs. With a stable income, girls are then able to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Studies show that girls who attend school are less susceptible to child marriage and early motherhood. Educated mothers are also more likely to prioritize the education of their children, creating a ripple effect of benefits across the nation.

A Holistic Approach

OneProsper adopts a holistic strategy to address the barriers to girls’ education in India. The program outlines seven key steps, each resolving an obstacle:

  1. Time. In the Thar Desert, young girls “spend up to seven hours a day collecting water.” OneProsper constructs “rainwater harvesting tanks” to allow the girls to use this time to gain an education at school.
  2. Clean Water. Without access to clean water, waterborne diseases run rampant with disproportionate impacts on children. OneProsper provides households in the Thar Desert with bio-sand filters “to turn harvested water into clean, potable water.”
  3. Respect. Cultural norms in India often perpetuate gender inequality, fostering the societal belief that females as less valuable than males. To show the importance and value of women, OneProsper engraves mothers’ names on each water tank to teach girls that women are indeed important and deserving of respect.
  4. Nutrition. OneProsper offers “seeds and farm training” so households can cultivate their own nutritious food.
  5. Costs of Schooling. OneProsper pays the primary and secondary costs of schooling, such as school fees, attire and other essential school resources.
  6. Transportation. To address distance and transport barriers, each girl receives a bicycle to get to school in a shorter time than walking would allow.
  7. Income. OneProsper helps farming families increase their incomes by improving their agricultural output through the construction of farming dikes in fields.

The organization’s website expresses that 100% of donations go toward supporting the people in the Thar Desert and directly funding girls’ education. Through this strategy, 260 Indian girls are able to receive an education and 130 families are receiving support to rise out of poverty.

English Learning Buddy Program

The English Learning Buddy (ELB) program consists of English-speaking volunteers virtually meeting with Indian girls from low-income families to teach them English. In this 10-week-long program, partners meet weekly and read from a children’s book, working to develop the Indian student’s English skills. Learning English gives these girls a chance to advance in their education, potentially internationally, thus breaking the cycle of poverty and opening them up to opportunities for success and prosperity.

The Future

When discussing future goals, Agarwal says he plans to continue to expand OneProsper International through events and fundraisers. He stated that “My goal is to engage students in fundraising. For example, organizing a soccer tournament, festival or fundraising event planned and led by students. Students would help to raise funds to sponsor girls in India. Afterward, students will receive videos showing how their giving is making a meaningful impact.”

Through the efforts of OneProsper International, the most disadvantaged girls in India are able to gain an education and an opportunity to bring themselves and their families out of poverty. Through its continued work, poverty in the Thar Desert should reduce.

– Andra Fofuca
Photo: Flickr

Study Hall Educational Foundation
Numerous studies have indicated a strong association between poverty and education. Out-of-school rates are the highest in poor countries such as India. Poverty and a lack of education have an inextricable connection, creating a vicious cycle difficult to escape. Illiteracy and lack of schooling keep young people from obtaining better-paying jobs as adults, making it near impossible to ever rise up from poverty. In low-income countries, girls are more likely to withdraw from school — or never attend — than boys. However, the organization, Study Hall Educational Foundation (SHEF), is transforming the lives of girls in India.

Daughters Cannot Attend School

There are several reasons why many girls in India do not have access to education. In rural areas, even if school is free, parents must pay for books and transportation. Parents typically believe educating girls is a waste of money, and would rather have them contribute to family income.

Often, girls stay home to look after younger siblings. Additionally, many end up in early marriages as soon as they reach puberty against their will. These factors could explain why the literacy rate for males 15 and older in India is above 82%, while for girls and women, it is barely 66%. Yet just one extra year of schooling can increase a woman’s earnings by up to 10%, thereby helping to raise her out of poverty.

Help for Girls in India

A nonprofit organization is working to change these daunting statistics. Study Hall Educational Foundation has a history of transforming the lives of Indian girls. Through a network of model schools and outreach programs, it promotes girls’ rights, enabling their access to schooling. Foundation administrators believe a lack of education directly affects a girl’s future ability to earn good wages and to escape poverty.

Urvashi Sahni, Study Hall’s founder, is an activist who became married as a teenager. She had two daughters by her early 20s, and later lost her sister tragically — burned to death over a dowry dispute. It was that anger and frustration that inspired Sahni to found Study Hall. Her work to promote gender equality and education has impacted more than 5 million children, according to the Foundation.

A prime example of Study Hall’s pioneering work is the Prerna Girls School in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Founded in 2003, its enrollment has grown to more than 1,000, providing accessible and affordable education to girls from marginalized, low-income communities — most of whom would not have the opportunity to study otherwise. Many of the girls come from local slums, working as domestic help for neighbors. Although many also come from abusive homes, that fact has not abated their excitement to study and eventually join the professional workforce.

From Slums to Orchards

Another Study Hall program is GyanSetu — or Bridge of Learning — a network of support centers operating from small huts in slums and rural mango orchards. Children attend an accelerated learning program before enrolling in formal schools while continuing to receive supplementary education and support.

Increasing schooling among those 15 or older by just two years would allow nearly 60 million to rise out of poverty, according to UNESCO. That has a better chance of happening thanks to programs like those administered by Study Hall Educational Foundation, helping Indian girls have a better life.

– Sarah Betuel
Photo: Hippopx

Period Poverty Challenges Period poverty challenges women worldwide because many women cannot afford or do not have access to menstrual products. Whether in the United States, Ireland, Great Britain or South Africa, many women struggle with period poverty and need resources to properly manage their menstruation.

Period Poverty Challenges in Africa

According to ActionAid, one in 10 girls in Africa do not attend school because they lack access to menstrual products or private hygiene facilities at school. Moreover, 50% of schoolgirls in Kenya do not have access to menstrual products. In addition, community stigmas and taboos about menstruation lead to girls experiencing emotional and mental problems. Girls and women in these situations often feel the need to hide their periods because of the shame associated with menstruation. Understanding the anthropological impacts and possible solutions to period poverty reveals beneficial changes that could help women.

Anthropological Perspective

According to the anthropological perspective of menstruation, menstruation is the biological experience of young girls that notifies them of their body’s transition to womanhood. In a world with more than 300 million women menstruating per day, menstruation is still not openly discussed. In places where menstruation is considered taboo or dirty, women tend to have negative perceptions of themselves. This encourages secrecy and shame. Research suggests that menstruation as a topic of private discussion is universal. Women and girls are expected to deal with their menstruation in silence and invisibility.

Period Poverty Interventions

Sophia Bay, researcher of “Moving Toward a Holistic Menstrual Hygiene Management: An Anthropological Analysis of Menstruation and Practices in Western and Non-Western Societies,” proposes interventions that go beyond the issue of accessing menstrual products. Bay addresses the social stigma and shame as well. The first intervention recognizes the issue of access to menstrual products and the second addresses efforts to destigmatize the topic of menstruation.

When girls in lower-income areas have access to period products regularly, their risk of anxiety and fear is drastically reduced. Additionally, access to sanitation such as handwashing facilities and clean toilets is important to improve hygiene. Increasing privacy is also vital to sanitation as this will prevent young girls from improperly discarding used menstrual products. Lastly, puberty education needs to be prioritized. Many women do not know enough about menstruation. A lack of education about biological changes negatively impacts how girls see themselves and menstruation.

Qrate Workshops

Individuals and organizations are working to change the stigma surrounding periods and address period poverty challenges. Candice Chirwa, the founder of the organization Qrate, currently works with communities in parts of South Africa to educate people about menstruation. She is a passionate menstruation activist, speaker and scholar who uses artistic techniques to encourage conversation about periods and period poverty. Visual art, dancing and acting offer an opportunity for communities to discuss a usually challenging topic in a light-hearted way.

In an interview with The Borgen Project, Chirwa explains that the girls play games to become more confident in themselves during the workshops. For example, one of these games requires the girls to pretend to explain different menstrual products to an alien. This helps them learn more about the products and become more comfortable talking about menstruation. Chirwa explains that the game also lets her know whether the girls are gaining the menstrual knowledge they need.

Ending Period Poverty

Facilitating workshops for young girls in South Africa has shown promise. Furthermore, understanding period poverty from an anthropological perspective offers explanations for the negative cultural stigma around periods. Using the work of researchers, making period products accessible, ensuring menstrual education and taking action to combat the stigma work hand-in-hand to alleviate period poverty.

Nyelah Mitchell
Photo: Flickr

Women in AngolaAccording to the World Bank, Angola has a ranking of 0.36 on the Human Capital Index, which is below the sub-Saharan average. This means that the earning potential of a child born in Angola today is 36% of what it “could have been with complete education and full health.” Research indicates that girls and women are often disproportionately affected by poverty. In April 2021, the World Bank agreed to a $250 million Investment Project Financing in order to support Angola. This project aims to empower girls and women in Angola and address educational poverty in order to increase Angola’s human capital.

Women and Poverty in Angola

Data indicates that more than 30% of Angolan women were married or in a union before the age of 18. Furthermore, in 2016, for women 15-49 years old, almost 26% reported violence by a current or previous intimate partner within the last year. In addition, less than half of impoverished women older than 15 are employed. Moreover, 4.8% more adult women than men are severely food insecure. While women have made some strides in politics, making up nearly 30% of the seats in national parliament, less than 30% of women hold managerial positions. The contribution made by the World Bank will assist Angola to rectify the gender disparities between male and female citizens and empower girls and women to rise out of poverty.

Action From Angola

The National Development Plan that Angola implemented in 2015 set out to ensure equality between men and women in economic, social, cultural and political aspects. Further, the primary goals of the plan focused on addressing occupational segregation and rectifying the lack of representation of women in positions of power. So far, several national campaigns have been launched to promote gender equality and women’s rights. These campaigns include violence prevention and breaking down misogynistic traditions like child marriages.

Angola also implemented several policies to achieve gender equality and empower women. The National Development Plan 2018-2022 continues these commitments, with a significant focus on raising awareness of the importance of gender equality and preventing gender-based violence. The support of the World Bank will help to further the work that has already begun.

The World Bank strongly believes in keeping young girls in school. The organization supports the empowerment of young women to improve health conditions and end cycles of poverty. By ensuring the education of girls, the likelihood of child marriages and adolescent pregnancies reduces. This is a critical goal during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many schools to shut down and accelerated the dropout rates of young girls.

Components of the Project

The project consists of three components. The first aspect centers on improving sexual and reproductive health services and increasing community knowledge in this regard in order to encourage the use of these services. The second component will finance 3,000 new classrooms and offer support “to improve teaching and learning outcomes.” Finally, the last component relates to “efficient monitoring and management of the project and supports research to inform education policy development.”

One of the keys to the success of any major project is proper financing and the World Bank has just helped Angola take a critical step in the right direction. The $250 million worth of financing will improve the lives of many women in Angola by focusing on education and empowerment.

Samantha Fazio
Photo: Flickr

education for girls in MozambiqueMozambique is one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world but it has made economic progress in the past three decades as its income per capita rose from $373 in 1995 to $1,136 in 2017. However, Mozambique still lags behind most other countries when it comes to the crucial topic of gender equality, specifically in education. New funding from the World Bank seeks to address these gender discrepancies and improve education for girls in Mozambique.

Girls’ Education in Mozambique

There are several measurements of educational attainment by gender in Mozambique and none present an optimistic picture. About 60% of men in Mozambique are literate, as of the latest measurement, in comparison to only about 28% of women. This is largely due to high dropout rates for girls in primary school. More than 50% of girls in Mozambique drop out by the fifth grade and this drops to 11% by the secondary level of education. Solely 1% of women in Mozambique attend college, and once they graduate, their job prospects are grim.

In 2017, less than 4% of women in Mozambique had salaried jobs and only one quarter were landowners holding official rights. Due to these facts, many women find themselves forced to marry early in order to gain any financial stability. About 48% of women in Mozambique get married by age 18, most of whom have long since dropped out of school. This lack of education comes with increased health risks as the prevalence of HIV is three times higher among young women than young men. Furthermore, researchers estimate more than half of Mozambican women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime and believe it is justified.

The World Bank’s Efforts

Acknowledging the bleak state of girls’ education in Mozambique, the World Bank approved new funding for a project addressing low learning outcomes for girls in primary school and low retention rates for girls in upper levels of education. This funding includes grants of $160 million from the International Development Agency and $139 million from the Global Partnership for Education for a total of $299 million. The project will address the first problem of low learning outcomes by building 100 new preschool facilities in rural areas that lack quality education resources. It will also train and support teachers in grade levels one to three and expand children’s access to learning materials to improve reading skills for girls in primary school.

In order to address the second problem of low retention rates, the project will seek to create safe school environments for girls, increase the number of lower secondary schools across the country and make general improvements to the infrastructure of schools in order to retain more students. Furthermore, the funding will provide sexual and reproductive health programs and gender-based violence mitigation programs in an effort to decrease early marriages, HIV infections and domestic violence. The project will also implement mentorship programs for girls and expand the scope of virtual learning facilities, which will likely continue to be incredibly important education resources even in a post-COVID-19 world.

Potential Impact

Hopes are high that this project, with increased funding from the World Bank, will have a positive effect on the education of girls in Mozambique. Many rural families with children will have access to quality preschool facilities for the first time and girls in lower levels of primary school will have more resources to help them become literate. Girls in upper primary and secondary schools will also gain access to improved resources and revamped school infrastructures. New sexual and reproductive health programs have the potential to decrease the number of young women who are HIV positive and mentorship programs will build relationships among young women and provide activities and resources for school-aged girls.

Besides the direct and immediate effects the project will have on girls’ education in Mozambique, the country as a whole stands to benefit from the results of increased learning readiness and retention rates in the years and decades to come. According to the World Bank, increasing the percentage of women with secondary levels of education in a country by 1% boosts annual per capita income growth by 0.3 percentage points. Furthermore, one additional year of education can increase a woman’s personal income by up to 25%. Girls with basic levels of education are three times less likely to contract HIV and children born to women with basic levels of education are twice as likely to survive past age 5.

The Future of Mozambique

Mozambican girls and women have suffered from poor educational attainment due to a lack of opportunities, high dropout rates in primary school and low retention rates in upper levels of education. However, the new funding from the World Bank has the potential to improve girls’ education in Mozambique from preschool through secondary school by building facilities, expanding access to resources, enhancing infrastructure, implementing sexual health programs and introducing mentorship activities for young women. Increasing educational attainment for women has a ripple effect on their incomes, their families and their countries. A government choosing to improve girls’ education makes a sound investment in the country’s future.

– Calvin Melloh
Photo: Flickr

7 Organizations that Fight for Gender Equality
In order to alleviate global poverty, it is imperative to fight for gender equality. The President of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development said, “When you invest in a man, you invest in an individual. When you invest in a woman, you invest in a community.” Women all over the world continue to struggle for equality in the workplace. Additionally, women often bear the burden of completing domestic responsibilities and unpaid labor.

Poverty Among Women

Poverty affects women especially. Women do not have the same opportunities as men in receiving a quality education, work and owning property. Thus, their ability to be productive citizens often has severe limits. Many young girls learn to prioritize domestic responsibilities over education. Consequently, women are often illiterate and unable to find employment. This hinders the fight for gender equality and the economic development of a country as well. Moreover, global poverty will prevail until the world achieves gender equality.

Fortunately, many organizations fight for gender equality within their respective countries. Here are seven organizations that strive to empower women and alleviate poverty.

7 Organizations that Fight for Gender Equality

  1. The Korea Women’s Associations United: This is an umbrella organization that aims to achieve gender equality, democracy and peaceful reunification in the Korean peninsula by facilitating solidarity and collectivism. It played an important role in establishing the “basic framework for government policies on women, including the creation of the Ministry of Gender Equality and the adoption of a [gender-responsive] budget.”
  2. The Akshara Foundation: This Foundation works to improve access to education and enhance social consciousness in India by providing scholarships and capacity-building workshops to disadvantaged young women. Its main objective is to break the cycle of gender equality and poverty. Additionally, its Youth for Change program teaches young men and women the importance of gender equality for all.
  3. The Women for Peace & Gender Equality Initiative: This organization fights for gender equality by empowering young women in Nigeria via a uniform platform of advocacy. The platform resolves social issues and eradicates inequalities at grass root levels for policy-level changes. Furthermore, it provides skill and leadership training for adolescent boys and girls. Additionally, the Women for Peace & Gender Equality Initiative conducts research on gender-based violence.
  4. The Foundation for Studies and Research on Women: This Argentina-based Foundation has developed programs, projects and other activities concerning political participation, leadership, teenage pregnancy, violence against women and comprehensive sex education. The Foundation for Studies and Research on Women partners with local municipalities, universities and other NGOs to promote and teach its research through its extensive programs.
  5. The Pratthanadee Foundation: This Foundation provides mentoring and career guidance in Thailand. It successfully reaches over 3,000 undereducated and economically underprivileged women and girls in central Bangkok and rural Ubon Ratchathani each year. The Pratthanadee Foundation aims to build confidence in young women from low-income regions across Thailand. Additionally, the organization recently launched a new program to teach young women how to create and act upon their future aspirations.
  6. The Network of Young People for Gender Equality: This Portuguese nonprofit fights for gender equality and promotes women’s rights through informational activities, education, lobbying and research. Furthermore, this organization falls under the Support, Advanced Learning and Training Opportunities for Youth (SALTO-YOUTH). It is also a part of the European Commission’s Training Strategy.
  7. Voices Against Violence: This organization is an informal learning program for boys and girls in Australia. The United Nations and the World Association of Girls Guides and Girl Scouts developed this program. Additionally, the initiative works to help young people understand violence, abuse and relationships. Voices Against Violence works in Australia under Girl Guides Australia to empower young women to be confident and responsible community members.

Looking Ahead

These seven organizations strive to empower women, fight for gender equality and improve the economic development of countries. Providing girls and women with tools to succeed will improve work productivity and decrease education gaps and gender-based violence.

– Marielle Marlys
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Education in India, What You Need to KnowIn the fight against global poverty, women’s education in India is overlooked as a stimulant of change. Similarly, gender equality is a significant issue that prevails in India today. As a result of the country’s patriarchal structure, women continue to struggle to gain equal opportunities for success.

Women’s Rights in India

Throughout India’s long history, patriarchal and religious practices have greatly affected women’s rights. Misogynistic practices and ideas limit educational opportunities for women. Consequently, the reassertion of harmful gender roles is prevalent. 23 million girls drop out of school every year because communities are unwilling to provide proper feminine sanitation. This lack of women’s education hinders India’s economic and social growth.

Women also often take up domestic, unpaid labor because employers feel they are unqualified for employment. On average, women work six hours of unpaid domestic labor per day while men work 30 minutes of unpaid labor. This discrepancy severely limits women’s educational opportunities and ability to obtain employment. It also reinforces the belief that women are unable to provide for themselves and cannot actively contribute to the economy.

Women’s Education in India

Having equal access to education is crucial to alleviating poverty. According to the World Bank, countries with limited educational opportunities for women lose $15-$30 trillion in predicted lifetime earnings. Providing education for women helps strengthen female autonomy and allows them to contribute to the national economy.

Furthermore, educated women are less likely to marry young. According to The Tribune, women’s education could lead up to 60% fewer women getting pregnant under the age of 17. Educated women also have more opportunities to achieve higher socioeconomic status due to increased career avenues. By educating women and promoting gender equality, women are able to more confidently enter the workforce. Education is considered to be one of the best catalysts for sustainable growth within any country.

3 Organizations Promoting Women’s Education

Many organizations, including Pratham, Girl’s Who Code and Educate Girls Bond are fighting against global poverty by emphasizing the importance of gender equality and women’s education in India.

  1. Pratham: Founded in 1995, Pratham is an organization designed to improve education for children in Mumbai. Since then, it has grown in size and effectiveness. The organization seeks to provide necessary resources to educators in India, increasing the quality of education. Pratham has become well-established within the country’s educational system as an organization that developed testing programs for state governments and local communities. Pratham focuses on the implementation of grassroots initiatives and sustainable growth within local communities to educate children who are not receiving an adequate education. The organization makes yearly reports public for people to track their progress. In the year 2018, Pratham improved gender equality and education for 15.7 million children in India.
  2. Girls Who Code: Girls Who Code is an international organization that aims to provide opportunities for women to learn about and obtain specialized skills in computer science. Though the organization functions in many countries, its Indian branch is one of the most successful. After-school clubs and summer immersion programs are able to teach young girls valuable technical skills in a short period of time. Today, women hold only 26% of computer science employment positions. Girls Who Code acknowledges this and works to provide education for women to thrive in this field. The organization also provides scholarships to recognize students who excel in the programs. As of 2019, the organization has provided education for 300,000 girls at their camps.
  3. Educate Girls Bond: Educate Girls Bond is a Development Impact Bond that utilizes finances from independent investors to create new opportunities for girls’ education. As a part of this goal, the organization has created 166 schools in Rajasthan, North India. Educate Girls tackles gender inequality by addressing it as a social problem and showing its positive, social impact. The organization promotes gender equality by providing education for young girls throughout India. In just the first year, 44% of the targeted girls successfully enrolled in schools. This compels independent investors to continue their financial support while also attracting new investors to take part in this positive change.

Women’s education in India is often overlooked in the fight against poverty. However, promoting gender equality and providing equal access to education empowers women and boosts their socioeconomic status. Today, more women in India are able to contribute to the economy in ways that fight against poverty.

– Stella Vallon
Photo: Flickr