This past year, we began partnering with the U.S. Embassy in Senegal to create our third program, Our Sisters Lead. Emerging leaders among high school girls in Sokone will be empowered to become change agents in their own communities through a series of workshops and hands-on service projects. These inspiring young women will then become mentors and role models to young girls who face similar challenges in their everyday lives.
The 25 girls who participated in the leadership retreat have been implementing their respective campaigns in and around Sokone with their fellow beneficiaries. A total of 27 events have been held on the topics of:
avoiding early marriage and pregnancy
preventing gender based violence
environmental sustainability focused on waste/garbage management
These events have been extremely popular with community members, parents and local government and village officials. Over 3,000 people have attended these events, giving the girls a significant and meaningful opportunity to put into practice the skills that they have acquired over the course of this year while also raising awareness on topics that they themselves have identified as important issues that they would like to address.
In addition to these community awareness events, the leadership retreat participants have also been featured on radio programs broadcast throughout the region, where they have put to use their public speaking and advocacy skills to campaign for an end to gender based violence, early marriage and waste management. These emissions reach thousands of community members further amplifying the reach of their campaigns and provide listeners with an opportunity to call in, comment and pose questions. A total of 8 radio broadcasts have been planned with the final ones happening this month. The girls are accompanied by WGEP staff and by the experts in their respective campaign topic who participated in their retreat and helped them develop these advocacy campaigns.
We are proud of our girls like Absatou who are becoming change makers in their own communities! "My name is Absatou. I am 17 years old and from Sokone, Senegal. I am so happy to be a participant in Our Sisters Lead where I was fortunate enough to develop leadership skills that have already begun to serve me in life and that will continue to help me build the best world for me and for my country. As a result of this program, I finally understood the famous words of John Schaar who said: "the future is not a place to which we go, but a place that we create; the paths that lead to it are not found but are constructed." Because of this program, I promised myself not to let the walls of my shyness rise so high that I cannot hear the voice of my intuition, the voice of my future and my country. Before this program, I dare not express my thoughts, but now I am speaking out and even helping to solve conflicts. Honestly, this project is so important and I hope that all generations to come can enjoy it and benefit from it."
Thank you for helping to creatng a generation of leaders in Sokone!
Addressing the community about gender-based violen
As part of WGEP's new Our Sisters Lead program in which 185 high school juniors took part in a series of workshops on advocacy, public speaking and conflict resolution, these ambitious teenaged girls are now changing their communities for the better! After attending a final retreat to learn about community organizing and civics engagement, the girls are now putting these concepts into action by organizing community meetings and activities around ending child marriage in their own communities.
Ami, a 17-year old WGEP leader states, "In my village, the issue of early marriage is very prevalent and that is why I have selected to work on this topic through the leadership program. I want to present this information to my village and speak to the community about why it is important to prevent girls from getting married in their teens. After the presentations, one mother named Tening told me she would not send her daughter to be married at age 13 as planned but she would speak to WGEP about helping her daughter Saly go back to school. I was so happy to hear this."
WGEP is incredibly proud of these young women who have quickly become leaders in their communities, amplifying a message of gender equality in school and at home.
May 24, 2019
Our Sisters Lead and Leadership Program Update
By Kristina Lederer - Women's Global Education Project
Our Sisters Lead beneficiary talks about GBV
The three girls’ leadership workshops focusing on the topics of public speaking, advocacy and conflict resolution were held with the final workshop completed in March. Over 185 girls in their second to last year of high school in Sokone participated in these workshops funded by the State Department through the US Embassy in Senegal. The girls were surveyed at the beginning of the year to determine what three subject areas they wanted to increase in proficiency.
In addition to these three workshops, a final retreat for a group of 25 girls selected by teachers and staff was held over a weekend in April. The girls attended an intensive weekend workshop where they learned how to formulate and implement an advocacy campaign around three thematic topics, chosen by the girls themselves. These topics were avoiding early marriage and pregnancy, preventing gender based violence and environmental sustainability focused on waste/garbage management. Experts on each of these topics attended the retreat and helped the girls formulate the messaging for their respective campaigns. US Embassy officials also attended part of the weekend where they delivered over 200 donated books on leadership and entrepreneurship which will be distributed to all participants at the closing ceremony in June.
Following this leadership retreat, these 25 girls are now implementing their respective campaigns in and around Sokone, with their fellow program beneficiaries. Their campaigns have been enthusiastically received by community members, parents and local officials. The girls have really taken on the mantle of leaders in their communities, convening small group sessions to discuss the issues that they have chosen, holding larger scale community mobilization meetings and finally, participating in radio broadcasts that highlight the topic and mobilize the community around the issue. In one instance, the girls focusing on avoiding early marriage and pregnancy were able to successfully convince a mother to delay offering her 13-year old daughter in marriage. The mother, who had limited resources and felt unable to care for her daughter had promised her in marriage the following week. She decided to call off the marriage and her daughter will be enrolled as a beneficiary in Sisters to School program next year to ensure that she stays in school and avoids early marriage.