Mar 20, 2019

A new school year begins in Kenya!

Scholasitca is ready for the new school year.
Scholasitca is ready for the new school year.

The new school year in Kenya began in January and Women’s Global Education Project’s Sisters to School program is proud to support 188 scholars this academic year, the 12th year that WGEP has been working in Tharaka District, in partnership with local community based organization Tharaka Women’s Welfare Project (TWWP). Because there are numerous obstacles to girls’ education, WGEP goes beyond simply ensuring that girls are able access school, it also works to ensure that girls will succeed in school and beyond by offering a wide range of interventions in addition to school fees, living expenses, uniforms, academic supplies and toiletries.

Scholastica, (pictured above) is a scholar with the program and expressed her excitement about the new school year, describing how the program has helped her, “My favorite subjects in school are Science and English. I especially like the topic of plants, especially rice. From WGEP I get help, like they pay my examination fees, and even my clothes. When I became a scholar, I was very happy. Even my parent was very happy. Now I have finished class 8 with 320 marks, which is high. I try, I try. I try a lot, because I know without education, I cannot go anywhere. TWWP encourages us to learn so that our future life will be better.”

“I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I want to treat people who may even need operations. My parents can’t pay school fees. I was even chased home, out of school. I was sent home because of the fees, but I worked hard so I could continue getting the scholarship.”

In addition to scholarships, Sisters to School offers after school clubs, known as molding clubs, which will be held in 12 schools this year, with over 500 participants. The clubs provide an opportunity for boys and girls to learn about topics such as children’s right to education, development, interpersonal relationships, sexual health, parental care, and protection against harmful practices in a safe environment. Every year, WGEP and partner, TWWP, convene the Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) program to abandon FGM/C, ensuring that girls remain healthy and in school. Three hundred girls are expected to participate in the ARP this year. Sisters to School also offers a Boys’ Retreat, a complementary program parallel to the ARP where boys undergo safe male circumcision and discuss female empowerment so that they can publicly support sisters, cousins, and female friends in standing up against FGM/C.  

Another important intervention offered by Sisters to School, is community awareness activities, a highly effective and important way to engage parents, village leaders and other residents on the benefits of educating girls and to shift underlying attitudes towards this goal. WGEP expects to reach one thousand parents and community members this year through these meetings. Sisters to School will also offer adult literacy classes that will reach 600 women so that mothers can learn how to read and write in order to support their daughters in school and become role models.

Feb 28, 2019

WGEP empowers the next generation of women leaders

Rural girls in Senegal lead the way
Rural girls in Senegal lead the way

Women's Global Education Project's newest program, Our Sisters Lead, is in full swing, with girls in high school just completing the second of three workshops that will be convened for these young emerging leaders. After surveying the girls on what topics and skills they felt were most important to support their roles as youth leaders, WGEP identified three subjects that the young women were most interested in pursuing: conflict resolution, public speaking and advocacy. Experts in all three areas along with a facilitator with a background in improvisation and role playing ensured that these young women had an opportunity to try out the skills they were learning in these workshops using real life scenarios.

The third workshop will be held in a few short weeks, after which a special leadership retreat will be convened for a select group of girls who have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities. The program will finish off with these young women conceptualizing, planning and implementing a small scale community impact project with their fellow students on topics that they themselves have identified as important to them. This will be an empowering and inspiring opportunity for girls to make a difference in their communities using the skills that they have acquired to bring about change.

The girls are having a great time at these workshops and are proudly taking up the mantle of young leaders in their communities. Teachers, the principal and the mayor have been key participants in the program, with the mayor kicking off each workshop and encouraging the girls to become role models for the next generation. Women’s Global Education Project is proud to be supporting the next generation of leaders and looks forward to continuing and expanding this program to high schools in the area. 

Dec 20, 2018

What happens when an entire community gets together to celebrate the potential of young women?

Earlier this month, nearly 300 adolescent girls from rural Tharaka, Kenya graduated Women's Global Education Project's Alternative Rite of Passage program. The December 7th ceremony joyously welcomed the young women into adulthood safely—without undergoing traditional female genital mutilation (FGM). The graduates performed beautiful songs, dances, speeches, and skits to the delight of their proud families, friends, government leaders and teachers. In fact, over 600 people attended the ceremony, danced, and celebrated the girls’ decision not to undergo FGM!

The ceremony was the culmination of a whole week of thorough workshops. The daily classes covered every crucial reproductive health topic from STIs to pregnancy; every interpersonal issue from dating to consent; every aspect of female empowerment from self esteem to career advice; and everything in between!

“Some of the girls were so shy when they arrived, they barely spoke the first day of classes. But then we talked about building self esteem and confidence. They started opening up. By the end, they were raising their hands during lessons on the dangers of female genital mutilation, and even following me out of class to ask more questions about their reproductive health!” - Kellen, ARP trainer and host school director

Traditionally, when a rural Kenyan girl is around 12 years old, she is forced to face the knife and therefore be seen in the eyes of her community as a woman, ready for marriage and childbearing. She drops out of school and starts a family. Her path is decided for her. But the Alternative Rite of Passage program gives this girl a new option. By avoiding the harmful tradition, she is able to stay in school -- and decide, for herself, her own future.

Every graduate received menstrual pads
Every graduate received menstrual pads
Everyone got a piece of ceremonial cake!
Everyone got a piece of ceremonial cake!
 
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