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Transforming communities #SheWill

Martin Smedley, CEO

The way to reduce levels of poverty, hunger and HIV, is to empower women. Unfortunately in many developing nations women are faced with societal and structural discrimination which suppresses their true potential. To change living conditions and prevent further spreading of HIV, it is essential to educate and to evolve attitudes. Here at Act4Africa we realised this potential 15 years ago, and we run multiple programs to educate girls and boys to combat gender inequalities and violence towards women, The Girl Effect is one of them. Through it we equip girls with the skills to tackle everyday life as they grow into adults – The Girl Effect, transforming them from being vulnerable and powerless, to confident and empowered.

Despite significant progress in the number of girls enrolled in primary education, boys remain 1.55 times more likely to complete secondary education than girls in Africa (World Bank). There are several factors that prevent adolescent girls from continuing into secondary education. Societal customs and traditions often dictate that a girl can be forced into marriage by just 12 years old. Whereas boys have traditionally been a greater investment in terms of their income potential and therefore parents have opted to remove their daughters from school. Other girls find themselves in a position where their parents have passed away resulting in responsibility for caring for other siblings taking priority.

Sanitation also plays a contributing factor as girls can become reluctant to attend school during menstruation due to the lack of sanitation and clean, private facilities. In Uganda, girls say they miss up to 8 days off school per term because of being unable to access facilities.

Arming adolescent girls with skills and knowledge will enhance their future potential. Aside from the economic benefits to a nation an educated girl can better understand and challenge gender stereotypes that may otherwise hold them back. They will also be aware of their rights and will be better placed to protect themselves from gender violence and abuse which will have a positive effect when it trickles down to the next generation.

Act4Africa offer the opportunity for donors to sponsor young girls through their education with the Grow A Girl programme. Let’s keep girls in education, let’s empower them to be able to make informed, independent decisions. Get involved and play your part in the Girl Effect.