Girls in rural Ghana want to stay in school, but it's not easy once puberty strikes. It's a struggle to afford school supplies, let alone sanitary supplies. Without supplies, they miss a few days of school each month. Their grades suffer. Men in the village offer them money but then expect sexual favors. No one has ever taught the girls about sex or pregnancy, so they comply. Before long, they're pregnant, kicked out of school; teenage mothers unable to provide for themselves, let alone a baby.
Women in 3 villages where we run women's micro-credit programs asked us to start Teen Girls Clubs to teach their daughters about reproductive health, work to delay premature sexual activity, help them advocate for themselves and avoid disease transmission when they do become sexually active. We offer after school study support and teach the girls marketable skills and handicrafts so they'll be able to stay in school, earn their own spending money, and be less vulnerable to predatory men.
Helping girls stay in school past puberty creates healthier, more financially stable families. Girls who stay in school past 7th grade are less likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth, and more likely to have healthier and better educated children. Plus, every additional year of secondary education she completes will increase her individual earning power by 15 - 25%. The impact of keeping girls in school today will truly transform future generations.
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