Build the Agency of 150 Adolescent Girls and Women

by Education as a Vaccine
Build the Agency of 150 Adolescent Girls and Women

 

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is a major health issue affecting women and girls of reproductive age worldwide. A good percentage of the female population is of reproductive age and most of them are menstruating every month

The transition into reproductive age for some girls is often met with fear and anxiety due to poor knowledgeabout menstruation and a lack of access to resources about the changes that are occurring in their bodies. School-aged girls in marginalised communities face the largest barriers to MHM with a lot of myths surrounding them.

In addition to poor knowledge and lack of access many girls who are in school also face challenges accessing and maintaining quality MH practices because most schools do not have the necessary facilities, supplies, knowledge, and understanding to appropriately support girls during menstruation. This negatively impacts their education and ability to stay in school. Furthermore, schools often have inadequate water and sanitation available, making menstrual hygiene almost impossible to maintain, causing stress, school dropouts and embarrassment for female students. Also, communities hold cultural beliefs related to menstruation like menstruation is an unclean and secret issue which should not be discussed, you can’t get pregnant from having sex during menstruation and these affects the girls' wellbeing.

Another barrier that prevents MHM in schools and hinder girls’ access to equitable education, robs them of their dignity and empowerment opportunity is poor access to sanitation products.

In this quarter, we promoted the rights and wellbeing of girls in several ways.    

One of which is that we visited girls in schools and provided 50 In-school girls from Rido, Nassarawa and Karatudu communities in Kaduna state with reusable sanitary towels and menstrual health information that they would utilise to promote their wellbeing . This wouldn’t have been possible without your support and donations. Thank you for ensuring that Girls remain in school.

 

I feel so happy that somebody loves and cares a lot about women, I am so happy. I just started seeing my monthly flow last month, as a matter of fact I had fears on how to take care of myself but with this knowledge my fears are gone.” - Mangal

Today feels like Christmas for me. I am so happy, what even gladdens me more is the knowledge I got which I will use to educate my peers.” - Lariya

 

“This was a learning opportunity for me, I am excited because I learnt that I should always change my sanitary towel and not go a whole day with just one on” – Lami

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out of school girls enrolled back
out of school girls enrolled back

With Nigeria’s education sector yet to fully recover from the debilitating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, insecurity in form of violent attacks on schools by insurgents has further threatened the ability of schools to remain open for learning especially in northern states.

The North-west part of Nigeria which already has the highest share of the figure number of out-of-school children has also witnessed a series of attacks on schools, leaving pupils scared to return to classrooms and parents apprehensive about the safety of their children.

In Kaduna State where our project is active, there have been several cases of the mass kidnapping of students, especially in the last year. While this put a strain on our efforts to enroll out of school girls back into school, it has also affected our advocacy and campaign at the community level to promote girl-child education given that one of the arguments for low enrollment rates for girls is the lack of safety and vulnerability to experiencing sexual and gender-based violence while in school or on the way to school.

In spite of these challenges, we have been able to successfully complete the enrolment process for our out-of-school girls some of whom had been unable to re-enroll due to displacements caused by insecurity. For others, the insecurity led to the loss of Family members, benefactors, sources of income, and so on. All of which had led to a lack of resources to afford the levies and materials required for school.

Ruth from Rido community  who left school because of the insecurity in her area which resulted in their home being set on fire said ‘I gave up on school the moment bandits started terrorizing us, what is even worst is when my uniforms caught fire when our house got burnt, my parents did not know where to start, I’m grateful that I have been given another chance and I can return to school”

For Sarah, the situation is slightly different. After getting married at 15 as a means to improve the economic status of her family and relieve the financial burden for her parents, she dropped out of school. “ It wasn’t what I wanted but I couldn’t see any other way. We were very poor and barely able to feed, I hoped I could convince my new husband to sponsor my education but that didn’t happen but now that I have gotten another opportunity to be educated I will not allow my children to suffer as I did, I will make sure I educate them”. Through our advocacy and mediation, we were able to get her husband’s consent for her to be a beneficiary get another chance at schooling. 

While we realize that government and institutions have the most role to play in ensuring access to education more so since there is a free education policy in the state, In addition to holding government accountable to fulfill and provide the necessary inputs that will make this a reality, we also realize that there are immediate needs that need to be addressed. Over the last few months, through your generous support,  our activities have centered around addressing these immediate needs- providing books, uniforms, and other scholarly materials as well as offsetting bills that have stood in the way of young girls going to school and most importantly educating the communities on the need to prioritize girls education. For some of our beneficiaries, they were out of school as a result of the gender biases that prioritize boys’ education over girls. To address this, we conducted community sensitizations and campaigns.

With the help of key community stakeholders who have also been actively involved in this campaign, we have been able to identify the most vulnerable girls who are out of school and have made it possible for them to continue learning including carrying out mediation between parents and caregivers where necessary. Our goal is to see that barriers to girls' education are removed and that no girl is left behind.  

We thank you for your generous support which has made this possible. Together we can make progress towards increasing access to education for many more girls in Kaduna state.

Young girls with community champions
Young girls with community champions
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School registration
School registration

We are excited to share that we have completed school re-enrolment processes for 80 young girls from poor and vulnerable homes. Through your generous support, we provided books, bags, sandals, socks, and other scholarly materials they would need. For some, we offset the bills for testimonials and other certificates- the lack of which was keeping them from progressing to junior and senior secondary schools. In addition, through our advocacy, we were able to get two principals to waive some charges for some of them for a duration of time.

Our work concerning school enrolment has been challenging in recent times particularly with the increased incidences of violent attacks on schools and increasing cases of school kidnappings which prompted the Kaduna state government to shut down schools again just when they were recovering from the pandemic related shutdowns. Thus, in addition to sensitizing young girls and community members on the importance of educating girls and working to ensure school retention, we also mobilized the girls to carry out campaigns and advocate for appropriate strategies that will prevent attacks on schools as this will affect retention rates for girls to a large extent. Now that schools have reopened, we have been able to enroll 80 girls across three communities who have varying needs including finance, lack of support systems, and family expectations to prioritize other things besides education such as marriage and economic activities that will supplement the family's income. Meet some of our beneficiaries below:

18year old Hussaina from Nassarawa community dropped out of school 2years ago just about the time she was to write her Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, a qualifying examination that allows you to proceed to a tertiary institution. Her dad who was their primary breadwinner died in an accident and she and her sister had to stop school as their mother who is a petty trader could not afford to keep all 5 children in school.

For 17year old Judith, remaining in school became impossible as she had to get a job to contribute to the family’s upkeep after her father, a single parent lost his job and became disabled. Thankfully, we have re-enrolled and provided her with all that she will need to remain in school.  

In 16year old Sarah’s case, she dropped out of school when she got pregnant at 14. As a result, she became estranged from her family and could not afford to enroll back afterward.  In addition to providing the materials she would need in school, we are facilitating dialogue and reconciliation conversations with her family so that she gets all the support she needs.

Each of the 80 girls has a unique story and experience that has led them to the current circumstance of being out of school. Your generous support has made their re-enrolment possible and given them a second chance at getting an education.    

We are also pleased to have the support of community members and key community influencers who have pledged to ensure that the girls are able to settle in and do not experience other barriers. And have also pledged to continue with advocacy messages to bring more girls to school.

We could not have done this without you!

Young girls with support from community champions
Young girls with support from community champions
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Monitoring visit to see beneficiaries
Monitoring visit to see beneficiaries

Yes you made it happen! With your generous support, we have successfully procured and are in the process of distributing exercise books and other scholarly materials including school bags and footwears to 80 adolescent girls from communities in Rido, Nassarawa and Kudenda districts in Kaduna State. School closures as a result of the pandemic although necessary brought significant disruptions to education. The failure from the government to produce policy measures to mitigate the impact on education through ensuring access to digital learning as an alternative method to physical teaching especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the society worsened an already bad situation and placed girls from vulnerable household without access to learning and placed them at risk of never continuing school. To mitigate the likelihood of young girls not returning back to school post closures, we embarked on intensive sensitization campaigns in communities emphasizing the importance of girleducation and the need to prioritize girls return to school despite the challenges the pandemic had caused.

In addition to engaging directly with young girls, we also engaged with their parents and guardians on the importance of education and the need to make returning back to school post pandemic as much a priority for girls as it is for boys. In the course of our awareness campaigns, we recorded over 100 individuals who pledged their commitment to re-enroll their girls. We also identified 129 young girls who had discontinued learning for various reasons such as lack of funds to pay the levies that were being charged even though education is meant to be free for indigenous girls.  Belinda is one of such girls. Her father was a factory worker and her mother, a petty trader. Both became temporarily unemployed due to the lock down. With no other way to cater for his 5 children and his wife, Belinda’s Father had to spend the money he had set aside for her external examination fees that will earn her the Secondary School Leaving Certificate that she would need to proceed to a tertiary institution. As a result, she was unable to write the qualifying examinations. “I do not blame my father, I know he loves me and will find a way soon” Belinda says with a hopeful voice. Unfortunately, almost one full year later and her Father has been unable to re-enroll her back into school. Thanks to the generous gifts and support from our donors, Belinda will be also be registering to sit for the examination as soon as registrations for the next examination begins. She will also get the funds to enroll in tutorship classes to bring her back to speed after taking time off.

Also, remember Aisha who was forcefully betrothed and Maryam who didn’t think she was good enough for formal education from our last report? Thanks to your generous gifts, we are able to keep track of their progress in school and continue to provide support. Truly, it is outcomes like these that motivate and encourage us to continue and donations like yours put smile on the faces of adolescent girls. Thank you for your support.

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Community Champions Sensitizing community members
Community Champions Sensitizing community members

Yes! through your generosity,  we have secured resumption for three(3) girls and have reduced the drop out rate by 3 in Nassarawa Community, Kaduna State Nigeria as part of our community efforts at promoting educational recovery post pandemic/school closure.

According to UNESCO, in 2020, the pandemic resulted in an unprecedented global learning disruption and school closures that affected over 1.6 billion learners in over 190 countries. As the virus resurges, around 1 billion students continue to be affected by the full or partial closure of schools and universities, increasing the risk of learning loss, dropping out of education and social isolation. UNESCO is scheduled to release new comprehensive data, that shows an average loss of 100 school days for students globally.

The Pandemic has certainly highlighted the ills of not investing in modern educational strategies. Limited access to distance learning initiatives are stopping many children from continuing their studies at home and this has further tipped the scales against children from poor and vulnerable households. It has also dealt a huge blow to the strides gained in making education accessible to all and improving school enrolment rates for young girls in particular who face many barriers to education which includes the gender bias that prioritizes boy's education over girls’. 

While we realize that government and institutions have a huge road to play to build back more resilient and inclusive education systems, allocate increased financing and best practices in equitable education funding that effectively serves the most disadvantaged, our work in the community has shown us over time, that there are individual and community level factors that stand as barriers to school enrollment rates for girls even if other enabling institutional and systemic gaps are bridged..

Thus EVA has channeled efforts to support community influencers and key authority figures in 3 communities to hold dialogues and sensitizations in small groups where they are able to sensitize parents and guardians on the need to not only engage their wards in creative learning alternatives during this period, but to stimulate their commitments and actions to ensure educational recovery, increase inclusion and reduce drop-out rates after schools reopen.

In the aftermath of the dialogues and sensitization, the community champions have intervened in and mediated in the case of Three (3) adolescent girls between the ages of 13-16, who had been betrothed forcefully as an alternative to schooling. Among the champions are religious leaders whose influence had a huge impact in the reorientation of the parents involved and especially in these communities who hold strong religious beliefs and sentiments. For Aisha, Bilkisu and Rabia, that would have been the end of formal schooling since they will have to settle into their new roles as wives and possibly caregivers /mothers, we are grateful for your support that has changed this narrative for them.

 With your generous donations, we can keep supporting our champions with the resources and materials they need to ensure that no child is left behind in these communities as the world over strives on our collective education recovery journey

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Organization Information

Education as a Vaccine

Location: Abuja, FCT - Nigeria
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @EVA_Nigeria
Project Leader:
Chinelo Frank
Abuja, FCT Nigeria
$6,879 raised of $10,000 goal
 
69 donations
$3,121 to go
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