ONE Campaign
In 2004, Bono and Bobby Shriver co-founded the ONE campaign. It is an international non-partisan campaign that believes the fight against poverty is not about charity but bringing justice and equality. ONE aims to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases by 2030.

What ONE Is

ONE pressures governments, either through grassroots campaigns or lobbying with political leaders, to do more to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases. The campaign is not government-funded, and is financed entirely by individual philanthropists and corporate partners.

The ONE campaign is made up of several celebrities and world leaders. U2- lead singer Bono and activist Bobby Shriver continue bringing in other leaders to aid in their efforts. The team, which includes former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron and U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, works worldwide to fight extreme poverty. Volunteers make up the backbone of the ONE campaign. These volunteers mobilize education and advocacy efforts for people facing global poverty. Anyone can be a volunteer; artists, activists, students, leaders and celebs, including Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Liam Neeson and Jewel, are all working together to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030.

Who ONE Helps

The ONE campaign aims to end extreme poverty mainly in Africa’s Sub-Saharan region where 51 percent of the world’s poorest live. The campaign fights for several issues including no poverty, zero hunger and gender equality.

To address zero poverty, ONE campaign leaders propose:

  1. Ensuring all students in low-income countries have basic reading skills. This could cut extreme poverty by 12%.
  2. Increasing the amount spent on key health interventions for women and children. The proposed amount is $5 per person per year to 2035 in 74 developing countries. This could yield 9 times the return on investment in economic and social benefits.
  3. Ending hunger. The percentage of undernourished people dropped from 19 percent in 1990 to 11 percent in 2014. The campaign aims to reduce it from 11 to zero percent by the year 2030 through lobbying and campaigning with governments to provide the necessary programs and resources to nations facing extreme poverty. A key element of ending hunger includes closing the gender gap in resource access. Global hunger numbers could be reduced by 100-150 million people if female farmers had equal access to agricultural resources such as fertilizers.
  4. Fostering gender equality. “In general, women spend 19% of their time in unpaid activities (including housework, child and elder care) versus just 8% for men. Unpaid care work limits women and girls’ ability to complete their education, learn valuable skills and pursue income-generating opportunities.” By addressing this issue and closing the gender gap “developing countries could yield between $112 and $152 million every year and boost global GDP by up to $28 trillion by 2025.” (These projections made pre-COVID-19 pandemic). In addition, girls receiving a primary education may decrease maternal mortality by 70% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

How ONE Helps

The ONE campaign took more than 23 million actions towards alleviating global poverty. ONE championed 35 policy changes, with more than 128,000 supporters mobilized in Abuja, Berlin, Brussels, Dakar, Johannesburg, London, New York, Ottawa, Paris and Washington DC educating and lobbying governments.

“In Europe, ONE has been a key part of several victories shoring up support for development. In March 2013, the UK became the first G8 country to reach the 43-year-old 0.7 percent target for international aid as a share of national income, which meets the commitment made by the coalition government after the general election of May 2010.”

Also, the ONE campaign played a large role in lobbying for a provision of the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) to pass. The provision “increases mutually beneficial trade ties between the U.S. and Africa and promises to lift people out of poverty and into employment and prosperity.” It passed the U.S. House and Senate in 2012

Since starting the campaign in 2014, Bono and Bobby Shriver have been working to bring in leaders and volunteers to join them in the fight against poverty. By mobilizing volunteers to educate and lobby governments, the ONE campaign has been able to influence a number of policy changes. These successes continue bringing the ONE campaign closer to its goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030.

– Danielle Beatty
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in AlgeriaAlgeria is a country in North Africa with Mediterranean coastline and an interior of the Saharan desert. Over the years, the education quality in Algeria has been improving and statistics show more girls are graduating with university diplomas. While the recent reforms have been an improvement, more work is needed to improve girls’ education in Algeria.

The Algerian Education System

The education system is divided into a nine-year primary foundation school, followed by a three-year secondary and then university level. Algerian education is still focused on the French philosophy of fact-acquisition, and instruction is almost entirely in the form of lecture and memorization. As of 2015, there are 92 post-secondary institutions in Algeria including 48 universities.

Past Statistics of Algerian Students

Back in 1996, the ministry reported 15,426 state primary schools with 4,674,947 students, 46% of which were girls. There were 3,038 middle schools, which were for children 7 to 9 years of age, with 1,762,761 students, only 38% of whom were girls. This led to less than 50% of female citizens getting university degrees during the time. According to CountryMeters, in 2016, the literacy rate for the adult male population is 87.17%, or 14,318,494 men; literacy rate for the adult female population is 73.13%, or 11,949,007 women. Literate females made up around 14% less than the literate male population.

Recent Statistics of Algerian Students

Statistics of graduate Algerian women have been more than men since the late 2000’s. In 2011 and 2012, around 60% of the 1,090,592 students on track to graduate from Algerian universities were females. Ever since then, recorded data shows a positive trend of girls obtaining their university degrees. In 2018, Algeria reported that 64.46% female residents have graduated from universities in the country. There are currently no recent updates on the literacy levels of Algerians.

Education Reforms

Recently, Algeria has made education mandatory and free of charge for all children from age 6 to 15. Also, the British Council works in collaboration with the Algerian Ministry of National Education (MoNE) to support their joint focus on improving education. This is a continuous project that began in 2016. As a result, 40,000 teachers have been recruited each year for Algeria schools. In addition, the project focuses on addressing leadership and ensures the quality of the education system.

Due to this project, in 2018, approximately 596,000 students took the BEM, or the intermediate school certificate examination. The average score was 56.9 percent, which was up from 56.3 percent in 2017. The positive statistics ultimately led to the increased percentage of female university graduates in 2018.

The amount of females graduating and obtaining a university degree are gradually increasing each year. Since 1996, there has been more than a 10% increase in the amount of females graduating from a college. On top of that, the quality of the Algerian education system is slowly improving each year, and the government is encouraging all young girls to attend primary school.

– Megan Ha
Photo: LH4

The Afghanistan Relief Organization is a nonprofit based in the United States that provides aid and education to underprivileged people in Afghanistan. Afghans Abdul Satar and Aboul Fazil Khalili founded the organization in California in 1998. It is operated primarily by volunteers, including both Afghans and Americans, and is non-political and non-religious. In addition to providing direct aid, the organization promotes self-sufficiency in Afghanistan with its educational programs. The Afghanistan Relief Organization has impacted the lives of thousands of impoverished Afghans.

Direct Aid

Afghanistan is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Over 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. Many more live just above the poverty line and are extremely vulnerable. In order to diminish the effects of poverty, the Afghanistan Relief Organization provides direct aid to thousands of Afghans. This aid includes food, school supplies, hygiene supplies, medicine and winter clothing. Many Afghans do not have stable access to these resources without the aid of an NGO like this one. By giving these supplies directly to people in need, the organization is able to improve the lives of countless impoverished Afghans.

Changing Lives With Education

Another service provided by the Afghanistan Relief Organization is education, which is available at its Technology Education Center in Kabul. This school provides free classes for children and adults, and has had thousands of students since its creation in 2003. The classes teach things like English, computer skills, physical education and job training. The instructors and staff at the school are willing to work for small salaries. As a result, the Afghanistan Relief Organization is able to use the majority of its funding to provide educational resources for the students.

The Afghanistan Relief Organization has also created a series of women’s literacy classes. In Afghanistan, there is a large gender disparity in education, and many women lack basic literacy. These classes give women an opportunity to develop the crucial literacy skills they need to support their families. There are multiple levels of classes available, and the organization also provides $50 per month for its students as support.

Celebrity Support

A wide range of celebrities have publicly supported the Afghanistan Relief Organization, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Benicio del Toro, Halle Berry and Richard Gere. In addition to providing financial support, these celebrities use their fame to give publicity to the organization. This helps mobilize more volunteers and donors. In 2007, the organization held an auction of traditional Afghan kites to raise funds. Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Will Ferrell and Natalie Portman signed some of these kites to increase their values. Support from celebrities like these has greatly helped the Afghanistan Relief Organization’s ability to fundraise and have a greater impact.

Afghanistan faces many problems due to its extreme poverty, and many Afghans do not have access to the resources they need. However, the Afghanistan Relief Organization has improved the living conditions of countless Afghans. The education that the organization provides, through its Technology Education Center, helps thousands of students. The Afghanistan Relief Organization is able to function due to the devotion of its instructors and staff who work for small salaries, as well as celebrities who continue to support the organization’s efforts.

– Gabriel Guerin
Photo: Needpix.com

Girls' Education in Madagascar
UNICEF has been working on an initiative in partnership with Zonta International called Let Us Learn. The purpose of Let Us Learn is to improve girls’ education in Madagascar by combatting poverty and violence. According to the World Bank, Madagascar has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence for women between the ages of 15 and 49. About one-third of women in that age group experience gender-based violence. In 2005, the Japan International Cooperation Agency reported that women in Madagascar are statistically more likely to be unemployed than men, Furthermore, illiterate women living in rural areas are the most impacted by poverty.

Let Us Learn has been working to fight gender-based violence and increase girls’ access to education. The integrated school program, which is just one part of the continuing project, will wrap up in 2020. Here are five ways Let us Learn is accomplishing its goals. 

5 Ways Let Us Learn Is Improving Girls’ Education in Madagascar

  1. Starting the discussion: Let us Learn was the first program to address equal post-primary education for girls in Madagascar. The program includes multiple projects to address both girls’ education and overall education equality. The program reaches more than just Madagascar, spanning Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar and Nepal
  2. Helping girls return to school: The first phase of the Let Us Learn project used good education practices to improve girls’ education in Madagascar. The program built school dorms that allowed for 230 new female residents to attend school. In order to accommodate more students, 12 classrooms were also constructed. In 2016, Let Us Learn began the first part of its integrated school program. Its goal is to create spaces for girls to learn in a safe educational environment. The first part of this program helped 600 girls catch up in school so they could continue their education. In 2018, the second part of the integrated school program began. By the conclusion of the project at the end of 2020, catch-up classes will help 300 girls return to school. Newly-built classrooms will also benefit approximately 200 children.
  3. Educating girls about support services: Another goal of the integrated school program is ensuring that girls become more aware of protection services that could help them if they experience gender-based violence. By 2018, an estimated 50% of girls were more educated about those services. At the conclusion of the program, it will have provided medical, legal or social support to 960 girls in danger of experiencing gender violence. New menstrual hygiene management services will also benefit many girls in school. 
  4. Helping teachers improve: The integrated school program is also working to improve the quality of girls’ education in Madagascar. More than 30% of teachers in Madagascar aren’t formally trained. By 2018, Let Us Learn had trained approximately 1,043 teachers. Part two of the program began training school directors rather than teachers, and an estimated 135 directors should be trained by the end of 2020. Training school directors will positively impact about 21,006 girls in school. 
  5. Providing opportunities: Girls qualified for and received 3,013 Let Us Learn scholarships in 2013-2014. Since then, the integrated school program began offering conditional cash transfers to help girls from low-income families complete their education. Let Us Learn provides families with money to help their children remain in school. The cash transfer will only continue to be given, however, if their children remain in school, aren’t frequently absent and receive passing grades. A total of 1,500 families will benefit from these conditional cash transfers by the end of 2020. 

Madagascar has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence. Women, especially those in rural areas, are also more impacted by poverty than other groups. Through the Let Us Learn project, UNICEF and Zonta International are making tangible strides to address barriers to girls’ education in Madagascar. As a result of these initiatives, thousands of girls in Madagascar can hope for a brighter future.

– Melody Kazel
Photo: Flickr


Guatemala is a country made up of six primary ethnic communities, though the population mostly comprises people belonging to the Mestizo and Maya ethnic groups. These ethnic groups are generationally skilled in creating traditional forms of art, which include weaving, beading and embroidering. Over half the Guatemalan population lives in a highly populated southern mountainous area. Within this region also live the majority of communities that experience poverty in the country. Many individuals from ethnic communities in this region use art to leverage themselves out of poverty.

Poverty in Guatemala

While Guatemala’s GDP has increased by an average of 3.5% over the past five years, high rates of poverty still exist within the country. 59.3% of the Guatemalan population (9.4 million people) live below the poverty line. In surrounding Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) regional contexts, the average per capita growth is 1.6%. Due to high population growth rates since 2000, Guatemala’s recent annual per capita growth is only 1.3%. High population growth rates are, in part, caused by a young population, with a median age of 23.2 years.

The Literacy Gap

Guatemala also experiences lower rates of literacy among women than men. As of 2015, 87.4% of men and 76.3% of women were literate in Guatemala. Between 2002 and 2014, literacy rates among women improved by 13.03%. In recent years, organizations like MayaWorks have worked to address the low literacy rates among women in Guatemala. MayaWorks is a non-profit organization that partners with women from rural communities to transform artisanal skills into sustainable businesses. Across 125 partnerships that MayaWorks has established with skilled Guatemalan artisans, over 40% of women are reported to have never received a primary education — and therefore lack literacy skills. Through one program, MayaWorks offers women in rural Guatemala access to primary education to improve their literacy. Business and literacy training programs enable women to not only improve situations for their families and communities, but also to decrease overall rates of poverty in Guatemala.

Supporting Women’s Education and Entrepreneurship

MayaWorks has shared stories of how business and literacy training programs can relieve women suffering from poverty in Guatemala. The Tz’utujil indigenous group makes up 30% of the Maya ethnic population and is primarily situated in a rural highland region of Guatemala. Women from this ethnic group are skilled in creating Maya-style crafts, including cultural staples such as crochet, hand weaving and treadle foot loom weaving. With the help of MayaWorks, over 52 Tz’utujil women from Santiago Atitlán are leveraging their artisan skills and sharing their cultural forms of expression with businesses in the United States. These partnerships allow for extended solutions to both local and national poverty in Guatemala through international support. Meanwhile, the international business of Mayan artists is strengthening relations between Guatemala and the United States.

The work of Mayan artisans, combined with the financial and educational support of MayaWorks, has already begun to alleviate poverty in Guatemala. Overall literacy levels for Guatemalan women have increased, which has also led to the employment of more women within the country’s workforce. According to the World Bank, employment rates for women in Guatemala have increased from 23.24% in 1999 to 40-45% in recent years. On a localized level, many women are now able to obtain security for their families and communities. Above all, working with MayaWorks equips women to be self-sufficient in running businesses and managing finances. This results in a generationally sustainable, long-term solution for reducing poverty in Guatemala.

Lilia Wilson

Photo: Pixabay

Women in IndiaSocial constructionism has played a significant role in transforming the way most people look at the world. One specific identifier that has gained a lot of attention throughout the past century is gender roles. Some countries have embraced gender equality, whereas others are still navigating its implications. To explore this ongoing movement, here is an overview of gender norms for women in India.

The Situation

In rural and impoverished areas, women in India are still expected to conform to traditional roles. Girls are expected to marry by their early 20s and give birth to many children until they have birthed sons. They also serve the household needs. Slowly, more developed areas of India have begun to follow the more progressive ideology. However, remnants of this expectation for women are littered throughout Indian culture.

There is a significant difference in the treatment of men and women in India. In the traditional Indian family structure, families prioritize a son’s education because he has the most potential to earn money for the family. Families raise girls with the idea that they must marry off to another family. Often times, a girl’s schoolwork is not a priority when compared to learning to cook, clean and do other household chores.

The Burden of Being a Woman

In impoverished areas, having a daughter is seen as a burden because of the role that women are expected to play. The father must marry the daughter off to a stable family. However, the financial burden is huge. A Dowry is a reward that the groom’s family seeks from the bride’s family before getting married. Though technically illegal in India now, it is an old tradition that turns the institution of marriage into a bargain. For poor families, a dowry is a huge burden on the family. If not paid, the groom’s side of the family can back out of the arrangement.

After the marriage ceremony, Indian women are expected to stay home to cook, clean and give birth to children. According to a study done by the Indian Journal of Community Medicine, domestic violence is more likely to occur with younger females, women who have a lower income, women who are less educated and unemployed and women who are part of a lower caste.

Further, the average female literacy rate in India is 65.5%, which is just under two-thirds of the population of women in India. Only 31.2% of women participate in the labor force, leaving more than 50 million women without work or education. This is an alarming number of people for a country as densely populated as India.

The Azad Foundation

Organizations are seeking to lower the gap by helping empower women to overcome difficult situations. Various organizations provide women in India with resources to defend themselves in harmful situations and aid in the fight for equal rights. The Azad Foundation is one of them. With headquarters in Delhi and many offices around the country, this foundation reaches women living in rural areas who face domestic violence at home. The Azad Foundation’s purpose is to equip these women with resources and knowledge to “earn livelihoods with dignity.” The organization does this with various programs.

  1. Women on Wheels is one program that aims to teach marginalized women to drive so they can earn a living. According to the Azad Foundation, teaching women to become professional drivers is key to integrate them into the mainstream economy. This program works with women who are mostly from the slums. Most of these women in India have not finished grade school and aren’t able to get high-skill jobs. The program uses module-based teaching. The education includes technical modules that teach women in India to drive, self-development modules that teach English and first aid training and empowerment modules that teach self-defense and gender rights. After training the women, Sakha Consulting Wings, Azad’s partner, provides placement within the private chauffeur industry.
  2. Community Engagement Programs focus on a variety of initiatives. These initiatives include Men for Gender Justice, which increases men’s awareness and support of gender equality. Additionally, the Parvaz Feminist Leadership Program teaches women to become leaders within the community and encourages them to become catalysts for change. Azad Kishori 9 to 12 holds workshops around the country to educate girls on patriarchy, sexual health and women’s legal rights. The foundation also participates in annually One Billion Rising and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. All of these initiatives support engagement and social justice for women in India.
  3. The final branch of the Azad Foundation is the research and advocacy portion. To reach the goal of creating a national impact, the organization conducted research on a variety of gender-based issues and used these reports to launch social change. Azad Foundation also works closely with the government to create and change policies that empower women in India.

Future Change

While many social and cultural changes need to take place to improve gender equality, organizations like Azad Foundation have made a great impact on women in India. Empowering more women will transform the patriarchy that has been such a large part of Indian culture.

Shreya Chari

Photo: Flickr

Women around the globe account for 35 percent of students enrolled in higher education science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to a 2017 UNESCO report. However, by the end of tertiary education, women only comprise less than 3 percent of information and communication technology (ICT) graduates.

These numbers indicate a failure of educational systems to retain girls in STEM. This results in a deficiency of women in STEM jobs, which is especially alarming because these STEM careers drive innovation, inclusive growth and sustainable development. To address this challenge and improve the participation and achievement of girls in STEM, several organizations are amplifying girls’ STEM education in developing nations.

5 Organizations Investing in Girls’ STEM Education in Developing Nations

  1. Indian Girls Code: Founded in 2013 by two sisters, the Indian Girls Code offers free coding and robotics education for underprivileged girls in India. The initiative began in multiple cities as an afterschool program and summer camp for girls as young as 4 and 5 years old. It has since expanded to include weekly classes for 75 primary school students at Annai Ashram, an all-girls orphanage in Trichy. Indian Girls Code believes a hands-on education inspires creativity and innovation. As such, students are taught using Scratch, an open-source software, and Phiro robots, which are programmable, Lego-compatible toys
  2. Tech Needs Girls: Tech Needs Girls is an educational initiative based in mentorship that aims to equip young Ghanian girls with skills in coding and information technology. The organization has 200 mentors, who are all either female computer scientists or engineers; these mentors have collectively trained more than 4,500 girls — many of whom come from extreme poverty conditions. Girls between the ages of 6 and 18 are encouraged to participate by gaining knowledge of the basics of computing, set up blogs and develop software applications. The founder of Tech Needs Girls, Regina Agyare, an IT graduate and entrepreneur, hopes that teaching girls about technology will enable them to become economically empowered, self-confident and passionate.
  3. Code to Inspire: As the first coding academy for girls in Afghanistan, Code to Inspire has taught 200 high-school girls to code and build mobile applications and games. Since the organization’s launch in 2015, more than 70 percent of the students have graduated and continued on to find work with above-average compensation. The founder of Code to Inspire, Fereshteh Forough, aspires to help close the gender gap in STEM by teaching Afghani women the skills to achieve financial and social independence and stability. Forough sees coding as uniquely valuable to female economic empowerment — since coding can be done remotely, female software developers can work from home while building a career.
  4. Pearls Africa Foundation: Located in Nigeria’s Silicon Valley, GirlsCoding, a free program run by the Pearls Africa Foundation, is educating girls in the fields of coding and software development. GirlsCoding offers weekly courses in digital literacy to underserved and underrepresented girls between the ages of 7 and 18. Since 2012, the initiative has educated more than 400 girls. GirlsCoding also helps promote the continuation of tech education and careers by introducing students to different tech companies in the region. In the future, GirlsCoding hopes to expand to different states in Nigeria.
  5. She Will Connect Africa: An initiative of Intel, She Will Connect Africa, has trained more than 150,000 women in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya in digital literacy since launch in 2013. She Will Connect Africa aims to expand to reach five million women by the end of 2020. The program operates in two main ways. First, She Will Connect Africa partners with nongovernmental organizations to integrate face-to-face digital learning into development programs targeting women and girls. Second, the initiative also partners with job placement organizations to enable women to access continued opportunities in STEM.

With technological change accelerating, a continued failure to develop girls’ STEM education will diminish the potential of half the global population. However, by investing in girls’ STEM education in developing nations, these five organizations are driving innovation and women’s economic participation. These goals are highly cost-effective and thoughtful investments; closing the gender gap in digital fluency will open work opportunities for women, contribute to national economic growth and help achieve larger gender parity.

– Kayleigh Rubin
Photo: Wikimedia

10 Facts about Girls’ Education in YemenYemen is currently undergoing one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. In recent years, the nation’s warring conflicts have badly affected girls’ education. The year 2020, however, is looking more optimistic for the nation’s future. Change is on the horizon with peace talks in session and a vote passing in congress to end military involvement in the war. Here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Yemen.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Yemen

  1. Girls’ education in Yemen is in dire need of support. Seventy-six percent of internally displaced persons in Yemen are women and children, many of whom lack basic medical care, economic opportunity and access to education. Yemen’s ongoing civil war has worsened pre-existing living conditions for girls and women in the country. Educational opportunities for girls are also at risk of disappearing from the continued conflict in the region.
  2. Conditional cash transfer programs have enabled poorer families to send their daughters to school. From 2004 to 2012, the Yemeni government collaborated with other organizations to give stipends to girl students in grades four to nine, under the conditions that they maintain a school attendance of 80 percent and receive passing grades. The result of the monetary aid showed a shift in the cultural norms of the recipient communities. Adults began to change their perspectives on girls’ education and allowed more girls and women to attend school. The program has helped enroll over 39,000 girl students into primary education.
  3. In 2007, The World Bank organization implemented a rural female teacher contracting program effectively training 550 new teachers, with 525 going on to receive certification. Providing girls with access to trained female teachers greatly increases the chances of classroom retention and enrollment in the rural regions of the state, according to World Bank education specialist Tomoni Miyajima.
  4. More than two-thirds of girls marry before they turn 18. Families cope with economic hardships by selling their daughters into marriage. Early marriage has crippled girls’ education in Yemen. Instead of pursuing studies, girls take on household roles and often become victims of abuse by their husbands.
  5. In 2018, a Yemeni teacher opened his private home to over 700 students as a primary school. In the war-torn city of Taiz, both boys and girls can attend classes that Adel al-Shorbagy teaches free of charge. Most schools in the city are private and cost up to 100,000 Yemeni riyals a year to attend.
  6. Many private elementary and secondary schools teach the Chinese language to Yemeni girl students. Private school teachers believe Chinese is the language of the future, with increasing technological, scientific and industrial development taking place in China. Yemeni teachers and students aspire to become part of China’s growing economy.
  7. In 2019, UNICEF started to pay more than 136,000 teachers who had not received salaries in over two years. The program offered the equivalent payment of $50 a month to school teachers and staff to help address the low attendance rates of students in the country.
  8. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund has set target goals to improve conditions for girls’ education in Yemen in 2020. UNICEF plans to provide individual learning materials to one million children, create education access to 820,000 students and ensure 134,000 teachers receive incentives to continue to teach.
  9. Yemeni authorities are taking action to ensure that children have safe access to education by agreeing to the Safe Schools Declaration. The declaration is an international commitment that 84 countries adopted to protect students, teachers and universities from armed conflicts. Yemen’s endorsement of the declaration’s guidelines commits to a future where “every boy and girl has the right to an education without fear of violence or attack.”
  10. The Too Young To Wed organization helps to provide daily breakfasts to 525 girl students to keep them enrolled in school in Sana’a, Yemen. The meals help students remain in classrooms and avoid early child marriages. Providing nutrition to students keeps them from falling further into poverty, and prevents them from becoming at risk of their families selling them into marriage. The price of one breakfast per student is $0.48.

Yemeni girls have many obstacles to attaining quality education. However, the ending of a drawn-out war and continued aid and support from organizations across the world is bettering the situation. These are small and steady steps, helping to ensure that the nation’s girls will lead lives full of learning and progression. These 10 facts about girls’ education in Yemen shed light on the issue of Yemen’s education system.

Henry Schrandt
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Macedonia
The Republic of North Macedonia, commonly referred to as Macedonia, is a republic in the Balkan Peninsula. After the country’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia had a tumultuous relationship with Greece. Macedonia became a U.N. member in 1993, and in 1995, Greece and Macedonia agreed to ease tensions in their relationship. After Macedonia’s 29 years of existence as a nation, girls’ education in Macedonia is coming into the spotlight as part of the country’s initiative to improve its education system. Here are 10 facts about girls’ education in Macedonia.

10 Facts About Girls’ Education in Macedonia

  1. Mandatory Education: Both primary and secondary education is mandatory in Macedonia. Primary education lasts for nine years for all children aged 6 to 15. Secondary education lasts for four years for teenagers aged 15 to 19 for both general and vocational education. General secondary education is compulsory between the ages of 6 to 19 and 6 to 17, and vocational training is compulsory for ages 17, 18 or 19.
  2. Decentralized Education System: The education system in Macedonia is decentralized. Except for the secondary schools in Skopje, the capital, Macedonia’s decentralized education system places both the administrative and financial responsibilities of public education in the hands of local governments. The national government provides financial resources for education in each municipality, and local municipality councils are responsible for distributing these resources.
  3. Roma Girls: Early marriage makes Roma girls’ education in Macedonia more challenging. The Romani people, commonly called Roma, are one of the ethnic minorities in Macedonia. In 2002, an estimated 2.7 percent of the Macedonian population was Romani. USAID reported that Roma girls are especially vulnerable to early marriages. This results in lower school-completion rates compared to other ethnic groups in Macedonia.
  4. Roma Women’s Illiteracy: Illiteracy among Roma women is high. UNICEF’s 2013 report highlighted illiteracy among Roma women as one of the key education issues in Macedonia. This Romani education issue parallels with Macedonia’s gender discrimination issues. In 2013, UNICEF stated that only 77 percent of Romani women were literate. The report attributes this to their 86 percent primary school enrollment rate.
  5. Gender and Socio-Economic Situations: Gender, socio-economic situations and race play a role in girls’ education in Macedonia. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that in 2011, the NAR (net attendance ratio) of Roma girls rose from 21 percent to 35 percent. This rise is still a lackluster number of enrollments compared to the 85 percent NAR of Macedonian and Albanian children. This 35 percent NAR showed that the lowest attendance was in both extremely poor and extremely wealthy families. Nearly 60 percent of Romani children did not attend secondary school. This lack of secondary education attendance is the root cause of the continuing cycle of unemployment and social exclusion.
  6. Girls in Rural Areas: USAID’s Gender Analysis Report found that 31 percent of girls in Macedonia between the ages of 14 to 15 do not continue their education after primary schooling, and this is especially in rural areas. In rural areas, 42 percent of secondary school-aged children are out of school. To remedy this, USAID recommends the Macedonian government target girls and boys in rural areas with a high population of ethnic minorities when planning their education projects.
  7. Increasing Girls’ Education: Girls’ education in Macedonia is on the rise. UNESCO’s country profile of Macedonia noted an upward trend in Macedonian children’s participation in education. True to the trend in the data, girls’ education in Macedonia is on the rise along with the general education ratio in the country. Compared to 2009, when 4,862 girls were out of school, there were only 2,927 children who were out of school in 2019.
  8. Inclusive Education: The Macedonian government is striving to improve inclusive education. Inclusive education aims to provide quality education to all children regardless of their gender, socio-economic background, disability or race. Working closely with UNICEF and the OECD, the Macedonian Ministry of Education and Science is training teachers according to the inclusive education guidelines provided by UNICEF.
  9. The Macedonian Government’s Commitment: The Macedonian government has committed itself to the improvement of access to quality pre-primary education. The Macedonian government committed to improving and expanding access to pre-primary school education in the country because around 61 percent of pre-primary aged children do not attend preschools. In April 2019, Mila Carovska, Minister of Labor and Social Policy, told UNICEF that her ministry’s budget for capital investment increased by 300 percent, which shows the Macedonian government’s commitment to the project.
  10. Girls Versus Boys: According to the OECD’s 2019 of review and assessment of North Macedonia’s education system, girls in Macedonia are outperforming boys in school. According to the report, Macedonian girls are outperforming boys by 20 score points in science and seven score points in mathematics.

While there is certainly room for improvement in girls’ education in Macedonia, it is clear that the Macedonian government is taking steps toward improving education. Girls’ education in Macedonia is not a singular issue of gender discrimination. Rather, it is a diverse issue that has its roots in socio-economic backgrounds and race of the girls in Macedonia. With the help of international groups such as OECD and UNICEF, the Macedonian government is improving the education of girls.

– YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Menstruation Education and Poverty
Each day, more than 800 million women and girls menstruate, yet people often leave periods out of conversations regarding poverty, global health and progress. Menstruation, education and poverty link together. Most who menstruate experience their first period between ages 10 and 16. Menstruation can cause other complications for children already in poverty. Despite efforts to include menstruation in these conversations, stigma and shame still often prevail when discussions arise.

In order to have a healthy period, people need access to clean water and sanitation. More than 35 percent of the world’s population lack these necessities. Without necessary hygiene measures, menstruation can result in illness and death.

Menstruation, Education and Poverty

In addition to these concerns about physical well-being and safety, menstruation can negatively affect a child’s education in a number of ways. Lack of proper sanitation and menstrual hygiene products such as tampons and sanitary pads can lead to missed school days around the time of a period.

When logistical concerns combine with the common stigma about periods and menstruation, people who menstruate miss out on valuable education. In Ghana, a nation where 8 percent of people live in extreme poverty, over 95 percent of students who menstruate reported frequent absences from school due to their period.

Fighting Back

While stigma and the lack of access to sanitary products continue to be a problem, various global initiatives are acting to combat this threat to health and safety. In 2013, the German nonprofit WASH United named May 28th Menstrual Hygiene Day, aiming to educate the public and fight stigmatization around menstruation globally.

May 28th is more than just a day to educate and enact action. It also symbolically ties to menstruation. May, the fifth month of the year, represents the average of five days that menstruation lasts each cycle. The number 28 represents the average length in days of a menstrual cycle.

WASH United is not the only organization realizing the importance of including menstruation in the conversations surrounding poverty and global health. The global nonprofit PERIOD is working to provide quality menstrual care, education and opportunities for those who menstruate. The Pad Project works on the ground in impoverished areas installing sustainable, locally sourced machines that produce pads, creating both necessary sanitary products and jobs. These two nonprofits both additionally stress the importance of proper menstrual care in order to ensure that menstruation does not limit a child’s education.

Looking Forward

Menstruation is not just a concern for the 26 percent of the global population who experiences it. There is a great need for education on the process and common challenges of menstruation in order to improve health and access to necessary care. In the fight to improve menstrual health around the globe, it is imperative that people teach menstruation as a natural, biological process that is healthy for the body, and not something that is shameful or unsanitary.

When people who menstruate have confidence in the tools they use during their period, as well as access to basic needs of water and sanitation, then menstruation, education and poverty can begin to destigmatize and children can face less of a barrier in obtaining the schooling, comfort and safety they deserve.

Elizabeth Reece Baker
Photo: Wikimedia Commons