Empower girls in Niger for change via education

 
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No, this is NOT a l'Oréal advertisement, but Rakia, Djamila, and Mariama are our "top models" in a reimagined home economics class that, among other things, teaches girl students at the Amadou Hampaté Bâ Middle School to be self confident and to respect themselves.

Rakia , Djamila and Mariama live in a country (Niger) and come from homes where they are automatically considered and unconsciously treated as second class citizens. But this is not the case in this school.

"We are very gender sensitive here and do our best to change our teachers' mentalities regarding the way they treat our girl students" says the school's principal, Mr Hassane Moussa Baro.

The girls only home economics class builds self-esteem and empowers girls to make healthy choices. The home economic teacher, Mrs Moussa says :

"The goal of working with girls at the critical ages of 12 to 14 is to help them build self-esteem, develop life skills and positive motivations so they are equipped with the tools to help them achieve their goals and avoid getting into trouble as they physically and developmentally mature and change."  

Specifically addressing the needs of girls in this age range fills a need in the Nigerien society where sexism and classism persist at institutional and individual levels and affect girls and women, especially those living in poverty. Girls can be exposed to domestic violence, relationship violence, unplanned pregnancy, and abuse. This state of affairs is motivation enough to pay serious attention to girls.

Our association believes that girls who are engaged in positive activities such as school prevention programs are more likely to complete school and positively serve their communities, and reach their potential for future success.

We are able to keep underprivileged girls in these programs and help them get an education with your donations. Thank you for your kind support ! You are making a difference !

 

 

The girls at the Amadou Hampaté Bâ Middle School in Niamey, Niger are lucky to be able to attend a girls-only program and discuss questions like this: 

Does being a girl limit you?

Does it have to limit you?

What do you like about being a girl?

What don’t you like about being a girl?

Do you ever wish you were a different gender? Why or why not?

In Niger, as in many other countries, it is hard to be a girl. Our association is lowering the hurdles that stand in a girls’ way, by helping the Hampaté Bâ Middle School run a girl empowerment program, thus giving the girl students an outlet to discuss issues concerning them, their aspirations for the future, giving them room to spread their wings, and providing them with an opportunity to shine.

Amina : I had fun learning in this class and felt an important part of the group.

Hadizatou: The program has helped me enjoy school more. I hope I'll be able to participate in this class next year again.

Not only Amina and Hadizatou, but all the girls attending the program unanimously agreed that the program had helped them become more confident and more positive about their future.

 ACHIEVEMENTS IN GENDER EQUALITY IN EDUCATION

For the school year 2013/2014 we have 14 new girls who have obtained scholarships to attend the Hampaté Ba Middle School and will attend our girl empowerment program for the first time. Want to know more about this project and why it is important? Read on  !

- Special Girls-Only Class Part of the Curriculum allowing girls to discuss with a specialized teacher and have a voice about issues concerning girls and health, hygiene, families,  child-raising and learn skills such as cooking and sewing. The girls-only program addresses issues such as gender inequality with the goal of promoting self-confidence, self-esteem, and critical thinking .  as well as reinforcing the capacities and worth of a woman in society.

- School environment This project creates a supportive school environment which is a key element in ensuring that girls are able to succeed academically and socially. By expanding our program over the past several years, we have acquired the ability to improve the girl-friendliness and academic achievement levels and make our school an enriching environment

- Teachers  have been trained to ensure gender equality with all the girl students and are aware of gender equality in the classroom.

- Parents  Goals help parents understand the benefits of educating their daughters, such as health and high earning potential.

- Goals Helping girls to stay in secondary school has always been a primary goal of our Girls’ Education program.  Helping girls develop the skills they need to make key life decisions is even better!

- Proud and dreaming big! Some of our girl students are now speaking about how they are succeeding in school despite overwhelming obstacles. Many of the girls in our program are the first in their families to attend secondary school. This encourages them to dream big.

- Theatre Project The barriers that keep girls from going to secondary school in Africa at the same rate as their male peers because of tradition and cultural bias often stands in the way. We encourage the boys in our school to join the conversation and become active participants and we hope to use the power of the theater in the near future to support gender equality.

We believe it is possible to effect long-term change on the educational landscape for girls.

We know you believe in the importance of keeping girls in school. Your contributions have already helped support our achievements in Gender Equality with our program so far. 

We are counting on you to help us to turn the tide !   We need  your continued support in giving these girls the joy of a quality education. Thank you !

In the "girls only" class held once a week at the Amadou Hampaté Bâ School, Rahina and Aichatou, two bright and lively sixth graders,  learn things that really matter to them.

Last week, our teacher talked about early marriages and  pregnancies. For example, I learnt that too-early childbearing is not good for the mother's health and that it can even be dangerous for the baby.

I now have very good arguments against early marriages. I like traditions, but I think this one is not good for us, or for our families, or for society as a whole. 

In Niger, gender gaps in education are real: Girls face greater hurdles than boys in getting an education and are more likely to leave school long before boys. Focusing on schools that specifically support girls' education is one way to overcome the barriers girls face.

Amadou Hampaté Bâ is one such school. Our association supports this school because it helps girls get a quality education -- essential for alleviating poverty, and breaking down the social and political barriers that exclude girls from fully participating in the future of their country.

Rahina and Aichatou are lucky to be studying in a school where there are separate sanitary facilities for girls, where teachers are encouraged and trained to treat boys and girls equally,  and where a special "girls only class" addresses issues like early marriage, HIV and AIDS awareness, puberty, pregnancy and parenting.

Thanks for continuing to support this worthy cause and give these girls a chance for education and break the poverty cycle.

These 3 radiant faces say it all! This semester, in grade 8, the Gold, the Bronze and the Silver Awards were won by three girls!

Hanatou : I worked hard and felt very much supported by my teachers.

Hadiza : I like coming to Hampaté Bâ  School because I feel I can do my best here. At home, it is not always the case. My brothers count more than I do.

Sara : It is nice to see three girl winners on the podium!! I’m happy to be one of them!

Studies show that girls’ learning achievement is greatly affected by what goes on in the classroom, such as teachers giving preferential treatment to boys. Changes in the behavior of teachers, such as calling on girls as well as boys, have increased the girls’ participation at the Amadou Hampaté Bâ School, and the academic results are here to prove it. Making sure all teachers participate in gender-sensitive trainings is another step we have taken to increase equality for girls in the classroom and this has helped break down stereotypes about what girls are capable of doing.

Your donations help us provide an environment where the innate gifts of girls can be nurtured and developed.  So please continue supporting our girl empowerment project. We are so grateful to you for helping us change these girls’ lives for the better! Thank you!

Some schools help you pass an exam, others get you through life.

In October, the beginning of the new school year for students in Niger, we asked our girl students who receive scholarships from us to continue school, how they felt about coming back to the Amadou Hampaté Bâ Middle School and here's what they had to say!

  • I'm looking forward to math. I like numbers. I'm looking forward to lunch as well. I love sharing my condensed milk sandwiches with my friends.
    Amina, 13
  • I'm looking forward to recess and making new friends and seeing my old friends. I like science because our teacher is very good and I want to become a botanist.
    Ousseina, 14
  • I'm looking forward to changing classes and making new friends. I'm definitely looking forward to meeting my teachers. Teachers here care about us. I'm not looking forward to waking up so early in the morning though.
    Salamatou, 15
  • I'm looking forward to French. It's my favorite subject. I'm not looking forward to the English class because it's going to be new and perhaps difficult.
    Nana, 12

Ordinary words from ordinary girl students? No, not really. In Niger, the rate of early marriage is of 77 percent. Without your donations, Amina, Nana, Ousseina and Salamatou would NOT have come back to school. Not being able to afford their school fees, their parents would have most probably married them off. At 14 and 15, they would have been talking about their difficult pregnancies, their babies’ health problems, their relationships with their co-wives, their lack of independence, and their difficult economic situation.

 Thanks to your donations, these girl students won’t be taken out of school once they hit puberty. At the Hampaté Bâ Middle School, Amina, Nana, Ousseina, and Salamatou will not only benefit from an education that will provide them with factual knowledge and technical skills, but they will also learn social skills and develop self-esteem and the confidence needed to access resources and opportunities, and to voice opinions.

 Thanks to your generosity, Les amis de Hampaté Bâ will be able to give girl students more years of schooling which will result in many positive outcomes, including later ages of marriage, lower fertility, and healthier and better educated children.

 If that is not making a difference in someone’s life, what is?

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Project Leader

Thierry B

Paris, France

Where is this project located?

Map of Empower girls in Niger for change via education