Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal

 
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WGEP Executive Director Amy Maglio returned from a 12-day trip to Senegal for the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative global conference, "E4: Engendering Empowerment: Education and Equality." Amy also visited the WGEP program in the Fatik region, about an day-long drive from Dakar and got to meet with scholars, parents, teachers, community residents, and village leaders.

"The UNGEI conference focused on this finding: that despite the amazing progress made in girls' education over the last decade--more than 22 million girls enrolled worldwide since 1999--the current rate of progress will still leave out 56 million children by 2015," Amy Maglio says.

"According to the findings presented at the conference, most of these children will be from areas that already suffer the most neglect and deprivation, such as remote rural areas. And they are more likely than not to be girls.

I think our programs at WGEP were well-received because they address this very issue. Our work in remote, rural areas of Senegal not only help more girls from these areas go to school, but also focus on helping them stay and succeed in school--and so also address the further issue of retention, as it has been shown that those who have been most excluded, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are more likely to drop out of school even after overcoming the obstacles to enrollment in school.

We were able to showcase the following aspects of our program at the UNGEI conference: 1) we target the exact population that is falling through the cracks of larger initiatives, 2) we have formed effective partnerships with local organizations that are smaller, community-based initiatives living and working in the communities in which we serve (our partners themselves have very limited access to other outside assistance), 3) we are able to provide a comprehensive array of services to the community -- ranging from scholarships to increase access; to community awareness activities for mothers, fathers, and community leaders to change minds and attitudes about the importance of girls education; to an alternative rite of passage program to prevent drop outs due to early marriage and pregnancy.

I made many good contacts and connections through the UNGEI conference, and I am so happy and humbled that WGEP was selected by UNGEI to be part of it! Thank you for supporting our work and mission!"

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The numbers are in: during 2009, WGEP provided 180 full and partial scholarships to girls from the rural Fatik region of Senegal, as well as tutoring and mentoring programs, health education workshops, family support, and community awareness programs, impacting a total of 2,500 individuals from 48 villages and 23 schools throughout the region.

Additionally, anecdotal information provided by our local partners indicate that the number of schools within the region has increased, the total number of girls has steadily risen within classes, and that school directors are now more apt to actively recruit girls than in the past.

Not only has the rate of enrollment of girls in school increased, but there has been an improvement in academic performance among girls in the region. More girls in Sokone have been receiving awards for classroom achievement. Among WGEP scholars, 55 percent of our scholars finished in the top five of their class; 70 percent earned average or above average grades. One WGEP scholar from Sokone High School was even admitted to the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa.

These numbers are especially meaningful considering that only 18 percent of all girls in Senegal attend middle school (UNICEF), and only 6.4 percent move on to high school (Ministry of Education, Senegal).

We could not do this work without your support--thank you so much!

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Women's Global Education Project to Speak at United Nations Girls' Education Initiative Global Conference

Women's Global Education Project is proud to announce that we have been selected by the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative to speak at their global conference this May 17-20 in Dakar, Senegal!

Executive Director Amy Maglio and Women's Global Senegal Project Coordinator Adji Senghor will be among the 150 presenters and delegates from around the world who will be attending and speaking at the "E4: Engendering Empowerment: Education and Equality" conference.

Amy will be speaking about the work of Women's Global in Senegal and Kenya, talking specifically about barriers we found to girls' education in the communities where we work. Amy will also present ways in which Women's Global has helped our communities remove these barriers so more girls enroll, attend and succeed in school.

During her trip to Senegal, Amy will also visit our program in Sine-Saloum, a day-long bus ride from Dakar. Women's Global has worked in the rural Sine-Saloum region since our inception in 2003.

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Mossane Thiaw, age 13, is in sixth grade at Sainte-Thérèse Elementary School in Senegal and has been a Women's Global scholarship recipient since 2005. Because there was no school in her home village, Mossane mostly lives with her grandparents who live near Sainte-Thérèse.

Mossane and her grandmother, Sylvie, recently caught up with Women's Global:

Mossane: I visit my parents regularly but live with my grandparents and my six uncles, all of whom go to high school. I live with them so I can go to school. I get up at 6 a.m. every day to sweep the house and help wash up after the family breakfast. I also help with all the meals. We often eat couscous in the morning, maybe thieboudienne (Senegalese dish of fish, rice and tomato sauce) at noon, and couscous again at night.

At 7:30 am, I leave to go to school. I take courses in math, history, geography, observation, civic education, ethics, health education, drawing, French, and singing. My favorite subject is math, and I always do well in it.

One of the proudest days of my life was the day I received my books and school bag for the first time. I am so thankful for this scholarship that allows me to go to school. When I finish my studies, I want to be a doctor and help others who have no means to help themselves.

Sylvie (Mossane's grandmother): My husband and I wanted to help Mossane because there is no school in her village. I have no daughter, and I want to help Mossane with her education. We are thankful that she can receive a scholarship because my husband’s salary is insufficient to fully support our family, much less send her to school.

Because she is in school, Mossane has a better outlook on life and work, and she has developed good habits that will help her throughout life. The whole neighborhood sees her success and wants this same scholarship!

Women
Women's Global Senegal secondary students

Women's Global Education Project is proud to announce that our Senegal program finished school year 2008-2009 with flying colors:

* 60 percent of our secondary school full scholars finished in the TOP FIVE of their class

* Nearly half of our primary school full scholars finished among the TOP FIVE of their class

Their success is especially commendable considering many of these scholars are the first girls in their families to go to school and can be among only a handful of girls in their classroom. Their academic success is a testament to the effectiveness of Sisters To School, the commitment of their families, the hard work and dedication of our girls, and the support of people like you who keep this project going!

Throughout our years working in Senegal, we have found many challenges that can keep girls from finishing their education, even after they manage to enroll in school. Because of your support, Women's Global has been able to focus support programs on these issues to help our scholars stay in school despite these enormous challenges:

Bias towards boys and overreliance on girls for home and farm chores: Women’s Global works to bring awareness about the importance of educating girls to a community as a whole and works with families and communities to help them give time and space to their daughters for schooling and homework.

Lack of overall support in the community and lack of role models: Women’s Global community awareness programs target all members of a community to promote the importance of girls’ education to girls, boys, men, and women. Our mentorship programs bring scholars into regular contact with female role models, and our adult literacy classes are aimed specifically at helping mothers support their daughters in school. We also provide tutoring to help scholars excel and pass rigorous national grade-level exams.

Health issues (including menstruation) and cultural practices such as early marriage: Women’s Global provides mosquito nets, medical treatment and health workshops to scholars and their families to prevent malaria, dysentery and other illnesses. We help educate girls about menstruation and help them get access to sanitary supplies. Our community awareness programs encourage girls and their families to finish school before getting married.

We truly could not do this work without you. Thank you for supporting Women's Global Education Project!

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Project Leader

Amy Maglio

Founder
Oak Park, Illinois United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Educate girls and fight poverty in Senegal