girls' education in ZambiaYoung women in Zambia are lacking the proper education needed due to harsh poverty. Fortunately, a group called Global Samaritans is continuing education in orphanages and schools in the hopes of bettering girls’ education in Zambia and equipping these women with the tools they need in order to shape their own futures.

Global Samaritans is a nonprofit organization with the purpose of improving life for those in Zambia. Its goal is to provide Zambian children with access to the highest level of school they wish to pursue, Executive Director for Global Samaritans, Erin Porter, told The Borgen Project.

Issues with Girls’ Education in Zambia

Zambia is struggling to maintain enough schools for children that are eligible to attend, according to UNICEF. It is estimated that 1,500 classrooms need to be constructed each year in order for children to go to school in Zambia. Citizens that live in the rural areas of the country are less likely to go to school because they cannot afford school supplies.

Zambian women face these hardships even worse than men when trying to become educated because of gender stereotypes and inequalities. In rural areas, 27 percent of Zambian women are not educated, compared to men at 18 percent.

Despite girls having a higher school attendance rate than boys, illiteracy is 15 percent higher in girls. Zambian girls are also twice as likely to drop out than boys by grade seven because of socioeconomic problems, according to the World Bank.

Addressing Gender Stereotypes in Zambia

These women are prone to marrying young, getting pregnant early and staying at home, performing household tasks such as cooking and cleaning. Since boys are seen as more profitable to a family, they are more likely to be sent to school instead of girls. Diseases such as AIDs spread quickly throughout the country, causing poverty to heighten, which forces girls to either drop out of school or not go at all.

“Girls are the ones who suffer the most when it comes to education in Zambia,” Porter said. “Oftentimes, they are responsible for the home and Zambia suffers from water scarcity. So, if a young girl has to walk 30 minutes to an hour each way to collect water two times a day, that is vital time spent on domestic chores instead of attending school.”

How Good Samaritans is Helping

To help with this problem, Global Samaritans has set up an orphanage and a school so Zambian children can receive the education they deserve. The group built a high school in 2010 called the Global Samaritans High School to provide children a secondary level education, helping achieve girls’ education in Zambia.

Children attend a government school from grades one through seven and then attend boarding schools after that, which can be costly due to fees, uniforms and school supplies. Global Samaritans High School provides children two more years of education at a nominal fee, Porter said.

The high school works hand-in-hand with the orphanage to allow a higher level of girls’ education in Zambia. For the girls who fall pregnant at a young age, the orphanage welcomes them back to learn and holds informational meetings about the importance of girls’ education in Zambia, Marriam Konga, orphanage administrator, said.

“I am proud to say that as an orphanage, we have been able to raise girls into adults today, some of whom are working as teachers and nurses and are already making a change in the communities around them,” Konga said. Global Samaritans will continue to work toward improving the lives of young women in Zambia and lowering the level of poverty in the African nation.

– McKenzie Hamby
Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in zambia
Zambia is a nation directly above Zimbabwe that has made a concerted effort in the past year to stave off both gender-based violence and child marriage. The nation realizes that in order to enjoy a brighter future, it must educate all members of the household and strive for women’s empowerment in Zambia.

The female Vice President of Zambia, Inonge Wina, made a statement in August of this year wherein she commended the nation for making great strides in not only championing for women’s empowerment in Zambia, but also in taking practical steps in appointing women to positions of leadership.

“However, there is [still a] need to adopt laws in our country and policies that empower women and enhance their leadership roles and equitable participation in governance, politics and in the labor force,” she said.

In 2017, Zambian police recorded 55 gender-based violence (GBV) murder cases, an increase of nearly a quarter compared to 41 recorded in the same period in 2016. There was also a spike in cases of assault, with 1,644 cases recorded this year.

Independent advocacy groups such as the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC), have been pushing for the implementation of an anti-GBV fund to help survivors. NGOCC executive director Engwase Mwale has also advocated for the full implementation of the “anti-GBV law,” which includes constructing shelters for survivors in the districts.

In response to the increase in gender-based violence, Zambia’s Ministry of Gender launched a strategy aimed at aiding women who have experienced gender-based violence financially.

The Gender-Based Violence Survivors Income Generating Activities Tracking Strategy has already helped to empower 6,500 survivors by providing them with financial opportunities; evidence has shown poverty to be one of the causes spurring gender-based violence.

Lawmakers and government officials in Zambia point to a lack of education as one of the main reasons that gender-based crimes occur so frequently. At the moment, the law in Zambia describes a child as anyone under the age of 16, and allows anyone to marry at the age of 18.

Chief Cooma of the Tonga-speaking people in Zambia’s Choma district, capital of the southern province of Zambia, has taken a strong stance on early marriages. He has warned his subjects against doing so, saying he will not hesitate to have any perpetrator prosecuted by the full power of the law.

Esnart Siandavu of Sikaunzwe, Kazungula, says gender-based violence does not apply only to battery, but in the distribution of resources as well.

“I think gender-based violence is not only when a husband beats his wife. Like here, women are involved in farming while their husbands go drinking. Surprisingly, when it is time to sell the produce to the Food Reserve Agency or private buyers, it is the husbands who take a central role as if we do not know where the FRA depots are. I think it is a violation of our rights because we do not see the money after toiling for the whole farming season,” she said.

Even though women’s empowerment in Zambia is continuing to make strides through education, the patriarchal systems in place still make it difficult for women to take full control of their own financial situations.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr