Last month, New York Times columnist and bestselling author, Nicholas Kristof, joined WGEP board member Mariam Huss for a virtual conversation on the importance of girls' education through the pandemic. You can watch the full conversation on our YouTube channel, but we wanted to share a few of the highlights with you directly:
On caring about global issues when there are so many domestic challenges in the US: "I think it's a mistake to pit humanitarian needs abroad against those at home. I do think we have bandwidth for both. At the end of the day, our compassion, our humanity, should not depend on the color of somebody else's skin, or on the color of somebody else's passport."
On the importance of girls' education: "I fear that the COVID pandemic will be followed by an illiteracy pandemic and a malnutrition pandemic. And I think it's important that we pay attention not only to the medical consequences of the coronavirus, but also the socioeconomic and gender consequences as well."
On Women's Global Education Project: "Thank you for the work that you all are doing in the schools in Senegal & Kenya, and you know, 50 years from now, those women will have had lives that are far more productive and their families will be better off and their communities will be better off because in 2020, they were getting those resources and that help."
Thank you for supporting our grassroots efforts to respond to the pandemic in Senegal!
When the COVID-19 virus spread around the world in mid-March, high school student leaders in Women’s Global Education Project’s Our Sisters Lead program sprung into action to support their communities. In this challenging and uncertain time, we are inspired by their commitment to helping others.
Alima, Absatou and Mouhamed appeared on a local radio broadcast on March 19th alongside two WGEP staff members and a representative from their local health department in order to educate their neighbors on proper handwashing techniques and how to avoid transmitting the virus. Thousands of residents in rural Senegal heard the broadcast, including their local mayor! The mayor sent the student leaders extra soap, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies to allocate to their communities, which they distributed to eight under-resourced schools. One of the school’s leaders remarked on their support: “I hear on the radio the authorities asking the populations to wash their hands, it appeals to me but we find it difficult to even afford soap regularly to wash our bodies… this is why your help is remarkable. From now on I will be the first to observe the regular washing of hands.”
Other student leaders have used the public speaking and advocacy skills they learned in the Our Sisters Lead program to volunteer with their local Red Cross committee:
Ndeye Coumba shares, "Because of the leadership program I now volunteer in my neighborhood for the Red Cross committee to fight against COVID-19. I am happy I can help during this pandemic.”
Ernestine distributes hand sanitizer and helps community members wash their hands: “During this pandemic period, I felt challenged by the Red Cross’s call to raise awareness of the coronavirus present in the world and in our country. Every morning we go to the different strategic points of the city where there are many people who pass to enter the city. From 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. passersby are asked to wash their hands with all the necessary equipment.”
Thank you for your continued support of our mission! Any donations to our project will support our continued COVID-19 response efforts.
As the second year of Our Sisters Lead workshops are underway, we have an exciting announcement from an alumna of last year’s program: Ndeye Fatma was crowned Miss Senegal!
Ndeye Fatma participated in WGEP’s leadership training workshops on public speaking, advocacy, and conflict resolution as a high school student in Sokone in 2019. Ndeye Fatma was crowned Miss Senegal in part for her inspiring speech and ability to speak clearly in front of the Miss Senegal audience-- crucial skills taught in Our Sisters Lead. Now, she’ll represent Senegal at Miss Universe, and advocate for social causes related to children across the country!
We are proud of Ndeye Fatma’s accomplishments, and wish her the best of luck as she continues to learn and grow as a changemaker in her community, and on a world stage.
Stay tuned for more success stories of this year’s Our Sisters Lead program, where 239 new emerging leaders are designing community development projects on the issues that matter most to them.
WGEP asked our community to share their most pressing questions for our scholars in both Sokone, Senegal and Tharaka, Kenya. We delivered! Below are the series of short videos of our students and program staff answering your burning questions!
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!
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