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.
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