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I Am The Loudspeaker For Girls Education

For the past 3 years, I have come to have a spot in working on issues that affect girls and women in my community here in Malindi- Kenya. I do love to travel and experience culture difference of other people and when I traveled here in Mombasa, North of Kenya during my thesis paper in college one thing that struck with the area is the culture difference. I promised myself that I will come back at the right time, at the right moment which I did after my Diploma at the college and luckily I got a job with a charity organization and our main focus was youth and women of which girls are inclusive.
I have been working with women and so many issues have rise up since then, so after reading assignment three was happy at know will be able to share some of the challenges with other women and sure great ideas and activities will be identified.

I decided to start a topic for discussion with my colleagues at work on what are some of the challenges they feel girls and women lack when accessing education just to add on what I have in my notes and experience. I am not writing just because of sharing but also to get feedback from my fellow “Loudspeakers” by either real life experience, activities on how to tackle the issues among others. Four things came out strongly namely and will explain one by one in details;
• Parenting
• Education system
• Tourism effect

Parenting: I know many of you will agree with me that parenting plays a great role in one’s child in this current society. Imagine a situation where parents don’t involve themselves in issues affecting their children either emotionally or financially just because of money? In Malindi for instance the case is different because of the attitude of the parents especially the female towards education. They believe women place is kitchen and take care of the family. Many girls are dropping out of school caused by pressure from their parents to get married and one example of a girl who dropped out of school to be married of by a rich man who is working the UAE. Fruitless efforts from other women champions called by the principal to counsel and advise both parents and children went well instead brought hatred among the parties involved.

Education System: In Kenya the government introduced the free primary education which led to high enrollment of student in primary school. This has affected our girls because the ratio of girls to boys in a class is 5:1 where classes of 80 pupils only 10 of them are girls which make them uncomfortable for them to concentrate in class and even drop out. Secondly what happens when they start their periods no classes till end of the journey? I remember vividly one of the forum that I took in a particular school here and the girls numbers were low compared to the last visit and one of the buys said “Madam they are absent because they have visitors to attend” which later learned is menstruation period. We as women champion started to advocate for girls only classrooms because at least they will contribute in classes, feel free and secure to attend school and their self esteem will rise. So far since it’s inception in 2011 many young girls have enrolled in school and taking part in classroom due to the separation of classes in the various school that accepted our ideas.

Negative effects of Tourism: Malindi is a tourism destination city full of life and great opportunities. Each year we receive large numbers of tourists both locally and international and this has some negative effects especially on our girls. Due to poverty some parents have involved their kids into prostitution and even to an extend where they drop out to school for a period of time to go and live with the tourists. Young girls not only miss school to become prostitutes but also some being introduce to drug traffic activities in the area since apparently are innocent in the eyes of policemen. This is a major issue here but activists together with the government are looking on ways on how to end the menace.
This are some of the challenges that our girls and women are facing but the root cause of it is poverty in the area and lack of education which leads to unemployment. One of the teachers capacity building training one teacher stood up and asked " What happens when the parent storms the school says the kids will be absent till futher notice when her man returns to his country" What can you do as a teacher?

Dear loudspeakers our girls needs help and is for this reason would love to hear your opinions and share with them. Life is too beautiful to waste especially if you are women because that means the whole community is not invested.Let us all rise up and give solutions to some challenges facing our girls and women just by sharing your ideas.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »

Comments

Taha Mirani's picture

Powerful

That is a powerful post. I strongly agree with you, women need to rise and speak up if they really want things to change for good. And the day isn't far when women wouldn't need any kind of advocacy. (y)

Love

Taha Mirani

Isabel Siegel Griffith's picture

Inspiring!!!

Dear Helwa,

Thank you for sharing your story and for detailing all of the barriers faced by women in your community. It provides a better understanding of the situation and will help us all to reflect and to brainstorm of ways to continue the fight to empower girls and women in Kenya. Your drive, passion and motivation are inspiring!

Thank you so much for sharing your story, and I look forward to hearing more of your voice!!!

Warm regards,

Isabel

Falchemist's picture

So much to do.

Asking is the first step in receiving the support you want, Helwa, and I have confidence that you will get suggestions galore. You tell of some real problems that will require consistent, focused and powerful responses if improvements are to be made. It would help, I'm sure, if you were to expand some more on the issues you have identified.
What specific approaches are being formally applied to the parenting issue, eg? Parent support workshops? Parent-teacher meetings?
It would be informative to know how the government and the activists are working on the issues. Are they looking at ways to educate for a better quality of tourism, maybe? Teaching girls about good parenting, if, as you indicate, parents themselves are hard to connect with?

LeenieT's picture

Further Questions

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Helwa!

It seems that without providing some assistance to families, the burdens of poverty will continue to keep girls out of school and working for survival. What kinds of support services (structural, financial, cultural, educational etc.) do you think would be most important for families in order to ease the transition for families?

Have there been any grassroots efforts to curb the sex tourism involving girls? If so, I'd love to hear more.

Best,

Lena

Helwa's picture

Mentorship

Hey Leenie,

First would like to apologize for taking long to reply to your question been out of town where connectivity was the main challenge. Anyway both local and international organization have come together to raise awareness on issues that affects the people. But the main challenge brought forward is the issue of attitude of parents.

In terms of attitude parents are the one who are driving their kids to such vice within the community. So we are trying as hard as possible to work with parents, teaching them parenting on how to handle the kids especially the adolescents and for the kids working with role models and testimonies.

In terms of the government structure, we have a children office where issues relating to children are reported but the challenge comes when we only have one officer in charge of children cases while per day at least 5 cases are being reported. This is a challenge even to the officer since she has a lot of cases to handle within a short period. So maybe if we share how we can solve such scenarios

Y's picture

On Children Kahlil

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Yvette

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