Educate and Empower 800 Ethiopian Girls

Jun 15, 2011

Continued educational success!






A number of international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Program of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, have emphasized the importance of education. The Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, recognized that female literacy is essential to empowering women to participate in decision making in society and to improving the well-being of families. In addition, the United Nations has articulated the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include goals for improved education, gender equality, and women's empowerment. The MDGs emphasize the essential role of education in building democratic societies and creating a foundation for sustained economic growth.

Education contributes directly to the growth of national income by improving the productive capacities of the labor force. Offering basic education to girls is a proven way of increasing their power and confidence and enabling them to make choices over the lives they lead.  

Educated women have the chance to live more healthy and successful lives. There are also important benefits for society as a whole. An educated woman has the skills, information, and self-confidence that she needs to be a better parent, worker, and citizen. An educated woman is likely to marry at a later age and have fewer children. Research shows that an additional year of schooling for girls reduces fertility rates and that the children of educated mothers are more likely to survive. In addition, the benefits of education on women's empowerment and gender equality are broadly recognized.

Although Ethiopia's education and training policy stresses the need to sensitize society about the importance of female education, it still has a long way to go in making this a reality. In Ethiopia, many families struggle economically, thus most female students leave school to stay home to assume household chores or to work at the family business. Poverty and a lack of female education have always been acute in Ethiopia. Some key factors contributing to these problems are: gender-based discrimination; educating males over females; early and forced marriage of females; and young peoples’ limited knowledge of life skills, family planning (FP) and reproductive health (RH).

In Ethiopia, the enrollment of female students at the elementary level is more than 55%. For the reasons mentioned above, this number decreases sharply in secondary, undergraduate, and graduate schools. As such, Pathfinder, in partnership with Addis Ababa Women’s Association, is providing scholarship support for economically vulnerable but academically strong girls in order to increase the retention of female students at a higher level of education. In the last three months, with support from Global Giving funds, Pathfinder has been able to enroll seven new students in school.

Since 2008, the generous contributions from Global Giving donors have enabled Pathfinder to support 58 scholarship students.


Scholarship beneficiaries are selected from the school’s Gender club in collaboration with school management. The Addis Ababa Women’s Association closely monitors the girls’ lifestyle, progress in school, and provides the students with services to help them thrive. Most scholarship beneficiaries are orphans living with foster families. To ensure the well-being and capacity of the girls to succeed in school, the Association approaches and consults the foster families, and also reaches out to the beneficiary to discuss any problems she may be facing at home. In the school setting, the grades and performance of the scholarship recipients are monitored closely through exams and reports. Additionally, beneficiaries are offered life skills and trainings on issues of gender, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health. To enhance leadership skills and self-confidence, the beneficiaries are given leadership positions in the school gender clubs. As result, the beneficiaries have demonstrated a strong work ethic in school and have the goal of becoming professional women.


(see attachment for pictures)

Azmera Abebe was born in the Worota district, Ethiopia. She is from a very poor family and at the age of 7, was forced to sell lemons to support her family. While Azmera was working at a bus station, she met a woman in need of a babysitter in Addis Ababa. Azmera agreed to work for her and soon went to the city, where she served as a baby sitter and house maid to this woman and her family. She went to school in the evenings through 8th grade, at which point she transferred to day school. The responsibilities of taking care of a child, household chores, and attending classes jeopardized her performance in school. Azmera said that “it was very difficult for me to continue my education in such situation, I had no enough time to study and unable to catch good performance in my education.” Despite these challenges, she successfully completed 9th grade and was recognized as a strong candidate for the Global Giving scholarship program. She is now attending grade 10 through Global Giving funds, and “thanks to the Global Giving Scholarship support now I am very much happy and able to continue my education without fear; I am able to properly cover my educational expenses; I have enough time to read and to improve my educational performance for the future; I have a vision to work hard and be a better person.”

Meskerem Zeleke is a 12th grade student at Menelik School. She is from a very poor family and both her sister and father are severely disabled as a result of a car accident. Meskerem began taking care of both her sister and father, while also maintaining the burden of house chores. She eventually decided to stop attending school and find work to support her family. After learning about the Global Giving scholarship program, she asked for support, and was awarded the opportunity. Meskerem states, “Now I am relieved and able to attend my education without any financial difficulties, from the financial support I get from the Global Giving scholarship I am able to cover all my educational expenses and paying for my school uniform and with the remaining money I am able to buy some food stuff for my family. For this I am very much grateful to the Global Giving fund.” Currently, she is attending school with great hope and aspiration to enroll in the University.

Marshet Mekonen is a 10th grade student at K.D. Selam School. She has 2 sisters and one brother, and her father is deceased. Marshet is responsible for supporting her family, and therefore engaged in selling lottery tickets, roaming from place to place until late in the evening. Her lifestyle made her a good candidate for the Global Giving Scholarship and also supplemental  training on issues of reproductive health, harmful traditional practices, HIV, and gender-based violence. She is currently attending school with great interest and very strong academic performance.  She confidently expresses her hopes by saying that, “I would work hard to get better than this and would join University and study public administration and international relation and want to be the future prime minister of Ethiopia. Above all I am very much grateful for the Global Giving support, without their support I wouldn’t be able to continue my education and reach to this level.

Meaza Sema is an 11th grade student at the Menelik School. She is 17 years old with 3 sisters, an unemployed mother, and a deceased father. Meaza had difficulty continuing her education as her mother was unable to support the family and provide the necessary educational materials.  As a result, Meaza is a recipient of a Global Giving scholarship. Since receipt of this scholarship opportunity, Meaza has achieved excellent academic performance, is very clever, and has excellent conduct. She is ambitious and determined to join a university in the near future.


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Project Leader

Dave Paek

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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