educate a girl in 2014 campaign- kickstarting girls empowerment
I have been kicking myself for waiting this long to start my campaign on empowering and educating girls. As a VOF graduate I discovered that as women we need to mentor the young girls so that they do not face the same challenges that we are facing. In my country of Zimbabwe domestic violence issues are silent issues that should not be discussed by a woman being abused as one Shona saying goes” chakafukidza dzimba matenga”( that which covers the house is the roof). Therefore a good woman faces abuse silently. The painful part is that we are passing this education down to our children who are being abused day and night and cannot tell us because they know our backward response to the situation and more importantly because they see us being abused every day in their sight and they too, grow up to accept this abuse as we have done and our mothers before us. Girls have become more vulnerable to sexual abuse with one in three girls being abused by the time they reach 18(ZIMSTAT). If we don’t do anything the cycle of abuse will continue and all the empowerment we seek will remain just but a dream.
I could not continue doing nothing. As a teacher every day I deal with children who want to speak out but feel frustrated to be given the same stoic and archaic responses that they are girls as if they do not deserve a life free from abuse.
My solution came in the educate a girl in 2014 campaign. Whilst talking with my friend one day I realised something, we can all help empower girls in our small big ways. I encouraged my friend to look for one girl to send to school in 2014. The total cost of the school fees and sanitary wear for one girl came to about USD$220. My friend felt this was a lot of money but when we further broke it down monthly it was less than USD20 a month. Still this was a lot of money but she was prepared to pay half of the money ensuring the girl went school for part of the year. Challenged I pledged to pay the remaining half. I was convinced that they were many people who would be willing to pay part or all of the fees for the girls. I approached another friend and she immediately agreed to finance another girl to go to school. I began telling people about the educate a girl campaign and though the people I have talked to so far are people who are in my social circle the responses are encouraging. I now have pledges from women who want to pay examination fees for a girl at a school they went to as I have encouraged giving back to our communities. In addition, women are also giving sanitary pads for a year to a girl or girls for the year 2014. Through one of my articles on World pulse, many women were shocked because of the materials girls are using during menstruation. The best part is that women are giving back to empower girls and they are now role models in their home areas. So far fees for three girls have been raised for 2014 and examination fees for one girl to write six subjects at O level whilst nine girls will receive sanitary pads. The campaign is continuing and growing bigger every day. Friends are telling friends and more women want to be involved. Though poor and sometimes struggling to even put food on the table for their families, the spirit of sisterhood is obvious as women make sacrifices for their sisters. I am still continuing the campaign by talking to every woman I meet to give back. I hope more girls will stay in school with sanitary wear.
You can also start a similar initiative in your community by starting with what you have and talking to other women and men. Your USD$1 change can save someone’s health and send someone to school. Let us empower girls in our communities as women in Zimbabwe have started doing and the best part is as women with the little we have we can change a girl’s life. We can start empowering girls ending violence against girls who are forced to drop out of school because of lack of money or lack of sanitary wear forcing them to become entangled in a cycle of violence and poverty.
always remember your small change is big change.