Week 13: Girl Power

Kakenya Ntaiya made a deal with her father: She would undergo traditional female circumcision (a Maasai rite of passage) if he let her go to high school.  She had to make a deal to go to high school, a level of education mandatory here in the United States (or until a student is 18, in which you can drop out on your own).

The fact is women are not empowered to make the choice to continue with their education on their own.  Education enlightens people and pushes minds to the think differently, embrace change, and think critically.  By empowering young women through education, allows for social change in villages in Africa.  It allows upward mobility in the workforce. With educated women working and earning wages, women do not have to rely on a single wage being brought into the house and further changing the social-economic structure.

Another strategy of empowering young girls is raising the minimum age of marriage.  Denise Dunning of Let Girls Lead work to raise the national marriage age from 15 to 18.  In some places in Africa parents will sell the rights to marry their daughter, often at a very young age.  This takes social powers away from the women.  Raising the minimum age with empower young girls and make them more independent.  The strategies are implemented by the governments with the help from not-for-profits.

Camfed is a non-for-profit organization that supports girls to go to school.  They have been operating in Zambia since 2001, working in ten districts, twenty seven districts, and seven hundred schools.

I believe educating girls is crucial, especially since our region is so devastated by HIV/AIDS and many of the children are orphans. Educating girls is the only way. If you are not educated, that’s the end of you. – Camfed

Zambia is still ranked 13th out of 15 countries for literacy and numeracy by the Southern African Consortium for Measuring Education.  As good of a non-for-profit Camfed is, the results seem not to be improving since 2001.  Although it is very difficult task when Camfed is competing to keep girls in school against pregnancy, early marriage, and extreme poverty.

Holistic approaches to help curb the prevalence of sexually centered issues in Africa include:

  • Men as a priority in sexuality research
  • Adolescent health promotion
  • Developing sexual heath interventions

Boko Haram militants (BBC.com)

Nigeria has recently had issues with a militant Islamist group, Boko Haram. Muslims in the Sokoto caliphate refuse to send their children to government-run “Western schools”, a problem compounded by the ruling elite which does not see education as a priority.  The group has created havoc by:

  • Wave of bombings
  • Assassinations
  • Abductions

Included in the abductions was more than 200 school girls.  Some girl escaped but the remaining missing girls have converted to Islam and married off.


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