Author: eduempowerment

Investing in Gender Parity

The World Economic Forum predicts that global gender parity won’t be achieved until 2133.  None of us fighting for it today will be around then to see what it looks like.  Yet, each of us needs to take action now to ensure our children and grandchildren experience it. Educational Empowerment (EE) generates gender parity through microfinance in a village outside Bago in Myanmar.  Here, in the dirt covered streets, microfinance creates opportunities for women living in poverty to start small businesses.  Women earn household income, and attain increased decision-making power, self-confidence, and community influence. Ma Thet and Lei Lei Win spend many hours together every day sitting on one of their porches rolling cigars.  They love to laugh and reminisce about when they were young and growing up in their village.  Ma Thet, a widow with five children, took a loan for $70 to help her continue her small cigar business.  While this may not seem like much to us, it is enough to allow her to run her cottage industry by herself, which then …

Education Combats Gender Based Violence

Amidst today’s global turmoil, let us not overlook the ongoing gender based violence impacting women and girls on a daily basis.  One-third of women in the world have been beaten, forced into sex, or abused.  One in five will become a victim of rape or attempted rape.  In conflict zones, gender based violence is epidemic. Myanmar is not exempt from this impact on basic human rights.  The country has been immersed in civil wars and conflict since the 1960’s. At that time the military junta enacted the Four Cuts policy, consisting of “attacking villages, forcing ethnic villagers to move into heavily controlled relocation sites, destroying their homes and crops, and planting landmines in their former villages and farms to prevent their return”. Thousands of children have been displaced by ongoing conflict in Myanmar, limiting their access to education, psycho-social support, and protection.  Impacts to these children are severe, especially for girls who are at high risk of sexual assault. The story of Chang Chang is, unfortunately, too familiar.  She was attacked and raped in her …

Girl Power: 2015 International Day of the Girl

October 11th, International Day of the Girl, is a perfect opportunity to celebrate all the girls you know.  Tell them how strong they are.  Tell them how important and powerful they are.  Tell them they can do anything they choose.  Tell them how important their education is for their future.  Celebrate all the girls! Empower Girls Education empowers girls. When we invest in girls, we create a healthier, more prosperous future for everyone. Girls’ education bolsters their dignity, saves mother’s and children’s lives, and improves the socio-economic status of the entire world! At this very moment, there are 600 million adolescent girls around the world. That’s 600 million opportunities to improve human rights, spur economic growth, and improve the social development of families, communities, and countries for decades to come. Let’s empower girls! Mobilize Girls Today’s adolescent girls are the next generation of leaders in the world. We know that technology creates endless opportunities.  Cell phone technology is now reaching even the most remote parts of the world.  Yet, there’s a gender gap as girls still have …

The Power of the Adolescent Girl

When the Millennium Development Goals were implemented in 2000, Naw Cynthia was an adolescent girl striving for an education with little support from her family, her country of Myanmar, or the world at large.  Today, as global leaders recently met for the United Nations General Assembly to establish new goals for 2016, the face of this agenda is an adolescent girl – a girl in school, safe, not married off, and able to aspire to follow her dreams. The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th is ‘the power of the adolescent girl’.  Global communities are being called upon to commit to critical investments in quality education, skills, training, access to technology and other learning initiatives that prepare girls for life, jobs, and leadership. The world recently witnessed the courage and power of an adolescent Pakistani girl, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafazi, who fought the Taliban for her right to attend school.  Malala’s story, detailed in her book I Am Malala and her upcoming documentary, He Named Me Malala, …

Education is the Answer

Education enables girls to achieve their rights.  It empowers girls with confidence and independence.  It provides girls with a path out of poverty, and it gives girls hope for a better life. Education is a silver bullet for empowering women and girls worldwide.  Education is the ANSWER. But girls need access to education.  The primary barriers preventing girls’ access to education are lack of schools, distance to schools, conflict, hunger and poor nutrition, school fees, disabilities, and being the ‘wrong’ gender. Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Delta is one of the poorest-of-the-poor regions in the country.  Access to education is severely hampered by typical barriers as well as weather, geography, and natural disasters.  Cyclone Nargis wiped out 60% of the schools in the southeast portion of the Delta in 2008.  Villages in the Thabaung district are flooded half of the year from monsoons and the Delta’s low lying lands just 3m above sea level.  Children typically travel to school by boat, frequently traveling through shark-infested waters. Educational Empowerment, in collaboration with Helping the Burmese Delta, recently built a primary …

Women Inspire: Han Su Myat

At age 14, Han Su Myat moved from Myanmar to sunny California with her mother and younger brother.  Her father had moved to America when she was 3 years old.  Since Myanmar was closed to the world at that time, Han Su and her family received no mail or phone calls from him for those 11 years of separation. Han Su spoke little English when she arrived in America.  She couldn’t even ask questions or directions.  Kids in her new school laughed at her accent.  After a girl in her home economics class threw needles at her, she felt scared and isolated. She missed her Burmese friends. There was no diversity in her American school. Education became Han Su’s refuge and hope.  She studied hard to get into honors classes. She believed she would be safe there and find new friends with common goals. Every night after finishing her homework, she helped her brother with his.  Through hard work and perseverance, Han Su graduated last year from UCLA. She speaks English well, and has a …

Women Inspire: Self Reliance through Education

Written by Melody Mociulski, Founder, Educational Empowerment Having just returned from 3+ weeks in Myanmar, I am struck by the numerous instances I witnessed of girls and women empowered by education – all resulting in their increased independence, self-confidence, and self-reliance. In today’s world of injustices, human rights abuses, and violence, it was uplifting to learn of positive outcomes and the power of the human spirit.  During my visits with Educational Empowerment’s (EE) partners, I interviewed numerous women and girls to learn of their life struggles, dreams, and thoughts on education. It was saddening to hear their stories of trauma created by poverty, sexual assault, natural disasters, and violence.  Yet, it was extremely inspiring to see how education has helped them to overcome these tragedies and to prevail. Naw Cynthia, one of EE’s partners, told me of the physical and sexual abuse she endured during her childhood.  She always knew that education would be her liberator.  Cynthia is now a well-educated and respected proponent of quality education and literacy in Myanmar.  She shares her story with adolescent …

Education: Girls’ Beacon of Hope

Written by Melody Mociulski, Chair and Founder of Educational Empowerment Girls around the world today are struggling to achieve their basic human rights – protection from forced labor, early marriage, conflict, and sex slavery; access to education; prevention of needless death from pregnancy and childbirth; freedom to determine for themselves their life path. In the face of these ongoing and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, natural disasters add yet one more barrier for them to overcome. On Friday May 2nd, 2008, Cyclone Nargis, the 8th worst cyclone ever recorded, hit the Ayeyarwady Delta in Myanmar.  Approximately 150,000 people were killed, and 20,000 girls and boys were orphaned. Villagers were starting their day as usual when all of a sudden the wind whipped up the river and the water began to rise.  Trees and houses crashed down and floated away.  Families were separated.  Darkness came.  Although crying of children and animals could be heard, no one could see anything.  The water kept creeping up.  In the morning, all was mud and destruction. Children tried to find their families …

Conflict and Displacement: Impact on Girls’ Education

Can you imagine living as a refugee – or as a stateless person with no nationality?  Camps overflow with cramped quarters, no privacy, insufficient latrines, and scarce school options.  Girls are tasked with gathering firewood. They easily become prey for assault when venturing out at dawn to gather wood. The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and displaced and stateless people worldwide has, for the first time since World War II, exceeded 50 million people.  80% are women and children. Failure to resolve and prevent conflict is the number one cause of this displacement.  And it’s the primary barrier preventing children – especially girls – from realizing their right to education. Myanmar has been immersed in civil wars and conflict since the 1960’s. At that time the military junta enacted the Four Cuts policy, consisting of “attacking villages, forcing ethnic villagers to move into heavily controlled relocation sites, destroying their homes and crops, and planting landmines in their former villages and farms to prevent their return”. Impacts on displaced children are severe – increased risk of human rights abuses, …

The Hidden Price of a Girl’s Education

Fifteen year old Aye Sander lives in the Buddhist nunnery, Chanthar Aung Nunnery School, in the poor outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar.  An avid reader, she is receiving a quality education.  Unlike girls her age attending government schools which teach rote memorization, Aye Sander is learning critical thinking – how to identify, assess, and solve problems – an immeasurable life skill. 350 girls attend Chanthar Aung Nunnery School and forty orphans, like Aye Sander, live there.  With seven classrooms and eleven teachers, the school is overcrowded.  A new building stands nearby, half finished, without funding to complete the roof and flooring.  All their food is cooked over wood fires. Only one of the buildings has electricity. The school depends primarily on donations.  Novices walk through the village twice a month asking for rice and donations.  It is always a struggle to make ends meet and is made more frustrating by the fact that monks are allowed to ask for food on a daily basis. The head nun, a lovely and gracious woman, cares deeply for all the …