Modeled on our very successful Grandmother Leadership training, a Leadership training program for adolescent girls will be developed. The training for 40 adolescent girls will increase their self-esteem, communication, problem solving and leadership skills so they can take collective action in their communities to promote girls' education, and decrease child marriage, teen pregnancy and female genital mutilation (FGM).
Girls in the Velingara area of Senegal are at great risk of child marriage, FGM and teen pregnancy and families favor boys' education to that of girls. When girls are married off young, they inevitably drop out of school. Most girls want to stay in school. But families, mainly fathers, are primary decision-makers who prefer to marry off their daughters, seeing this as a preventive strategy to avoid pregnancy before marriage.
Innovative leadership training of 40 adolescent girls will strengthen their relationships with empowered grandmothers to stop child marriage, FGM and teen pregnancy and support girls' education. Our innovative participatory learning methods focus on the skills and tools to empower these young women to make a difference in their own lives and in their communities. Together with Grandmother Leaders, the Girl Leaders will promote effective, long lasting change for girls and women.
Girls are the future of their communities, but they cannot change harmful social norms like child marriage alone. Empowered and armed with new knowledge and leadership skills, and together with committed Grandmother Leaders, they can take powerful collective action to influence families to prevent harmful traditions such as child marriage and FGM and change social norms forever. Girl Leaders can help make long lasting change for girls and women in southern Senegal.