WGEP Executive Director Amy Maglio returned from a 12-day trip to Senegal for the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative global conference, "E4: Engendering Empowerment: Education and Equality." Amy also visited the WGEP program in the Fatik region, about an day-long drive from Dakar and got to meet with scholars, parents, teachers, community residents, and village leaders.
"The UNGEI conference focused on this finding: that despite the amazing progress made in girls' education over the last decade--more than 22 million girls enrolled worldwide since 1999--the current rate of progress will still leave out 56 million children by 2015," Amy Maglio says.
"According to the findings presented at the conference, most of these children will be from areas that already suffer the most neglect and deprivation, such as remote rural areas. And they are more likely than not to be girls.
I think our programs at WGEP were well-received because they address this very issue. Our work in remote, rural areas of Senegal not only help more girls from these areas go to school, but also focus on helping them stay and succeed in school--and so also address the further issue of retention, as it has been shown that those who have been most excluded, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are more likely to drop out of school even after overcoming the obstacles to enrollment in school.
We were able to showcase the following aspects of our program at the UNGEI conference: 1) we target the exact population that is falling through the cracks of larger initiatives, 2) we have formed effective partnerships with local organizations that are smaller, community-based initiatives living and working in the communities in which we serve (our partners themselves have very limited access to other outside assistance), 3) we are able to provide a comprehensive array of services to the community -- ranging from scholarships to increase access; to community awareness activities for mothers, fathers, and community leaders to change minds and attitudes about the importance of girls education; to an alternative rite of passage program to prevent drop outs due to early marriage and pregnancy.
I made many good contacts and connections through the UNGEI conference, and I am so happy and humbled that WGEP was selected by UNGEI to be part of it! Thank you for supporting our work and mission!"