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!
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.
WGEP empowers the next generation of women leaders
By Amy Maglio | Founder & Executive Director
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.
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