All posts filed under: education

What Let Girls Learn Has Taught Me

Michelle Obama smells amazing. When she wrapped her arms around me for a hug after speaking on her Let Girls Learn initiative, the first thing I thought was holy shit Michelle Obama is giving me a hug, and secondly, wow she smells so good. It was a sweltering Washington D.C. July afternoon but the First Lady seemed unbothered by the heat. Instead, she brought inspiration, poise, and grace with her: “You all are here today because someone believed in you, because someone gave you the chance to be everything you would want to be.” That line stuck with me then and continues to remind me both that I am worthy of my opportunities, and so are the amazing people around me. But on that July afternoon, I was thinking, what did I want to be? Who believes in me? And what sort of girl do I have the potential to be? It was a question I asked myself a lot that summer. I was a Teen Advisor for the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign and had …

Shattering the Norm and Creating a New Future for Adolescent Girls

Written by Marcela Lopez-Macedonio, President & CEO of The Resource Foundation “As a girl, all I knew was housekeeping. I was the only girl at home and I had to wash all my brothers’ clothes. In school, I wasn’t allowed to participate in all the activities because I was a girl,” explains Belkis, a 39-year-old mother in Corbano Sur, Dominican Republic. Belkis shared her story during a parents’ meeting held as part of the Girls’ Education and Empowerment Regional Program, an initiative co-created by The Resource Foundation (TRF) and Johnson & Johnson in 2016.  Her story is not unlike those of many other women across Latin America. The choice to go to school, to start a family, to work – these were not decisions Belkis made for herself, but rather the products of generations of customs, traditions, and circumstances surrounding the roles and rights of women and girls. While significant strides have been made in Latin America, the challenges that Belkis faced as a girl and adolescent persist. Forced marriage, early pregnancy, and violence are …

Encouraging Girls to Take on the World through Education Centres in India

Offering girls basic education is one sure way of giving them much greater power – of enabling them to make genuine choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead. This is not a luxury. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women establish it as a basic human right. So why is it that despite proving to be a blessing to society the girl child is – in the worst case scenario – killed in the womb, or otherwise allowed to breathe but only the air of negligence, discrimination and deprivation? Today, we’re not only proud of great women of science like Sunita Williams, or women who’ve acted as agents of change like Sarojini Naidu, or  women who’ve taught us what it means to be human like Mother Teresa, but we also encourage such people to come forward and reform our world. Why is it that even though we claim to be the biggest democracy in the world we simply cannot destroy the …

A Beginner’s Guide to Stopping Time

This piece was written by Julia Z. – a high school student from the United States of America. All opinions are her own. We hear our grandparents say it. Preach it. Sitting around a crackling fire surrounded by family. Those wise with age warn those who listen eagerly – live while you’re young, enjoy every moment, time moves so fast. We hear the poets telling us to seize the day. Time is an enigmatic topic that attracts scholars, academics, and even inexperienced teenagers like myself. Is it possible that when people tell us to seize the day, they really are warning us to retain our innocence for as long as the universe will allow? Innocence is lost when the weight of the world is suddenly shifted onto the shoulders of an unsuspecting child. Burden, struggle, and responsibility are what make you transform from an innocent child to an adult who wears stress on his or her face like a child wears a smile. What I am describing hit me on a recent trip to Ethiopia. …

Hearing the Women of Kyrgyzstan: One Story at a Time

Written by: Lena Shareef We had a few more questions left in the interview. My friend, Olivia, and I were sitting on the floor of a three-room house in At-Bashy village, which is in the middle of Naryn, a rural province of Kyrgyzstan. I zoomed the camera lens in slightly on Vineira, a young Kyrgyz woman we met through our translator, while Olivia sat to my left conducting the interview. This was our second time visiting Kyrgyzstan and our second time interviewing Vineira at her home. In addition to telling stories of change at Fenton, I run a non-profit media organization called GIRLWITHABOOK Movement, which advocates for girls’ education and gender equality. My team and I are working on producing a documentary series about what it means to be a girl in Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. In October 2015, we embarked on a four-month trip, a month in each country, to identify and interview girls and women of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds about what being a girl personally means to them. Because the …

Left Behind: Education Equity as Key to Poverty Alleviation

Written by: Rose Frullani-Bacon Poverty is far from a 21st century issue. People around the world have been struggling to make ends meet for centuries. All the while, leaders, governments, faith groups, non-profits and other organizations have been tackling poverty head on. Today, many argue that education is the closest thing that exists to a silver bullet for breaking the cycle of poverty. Not only can a formal education provide people with the tools they need to attain financial stability, it can also empower those who break out of poverty to “pay it forward” and give back to their communities by becoming teachers, advocates and leaders. Though many non-profits and foundations have made it their mission to ensure that people in developing countries have access to quality education, there still remains an incredible and unacceptable gender gap in opportunities to go to school and ability to stay in school. Globally, a third of countries have more boys enrolled in primary school than girls. In some parts of the world, gender equity gaps in education are vast. …

Being a Woman and an Entrepreneur in Malawi

By Mayamiko Chiwaya, Student Driven Solutions graduate, age 16 Starting a business in Malawi is not an easy thing. Most people think that once you come up with a business idea you can implement it right away, which is not always true. To start a business requires hard work and dedication. In this edition, I will share with you the challenges women and girls encounter while striving to start small businesses in Malawi. According to my investigations, the first challenge that women and girls in Malawi often meet is lack of recognition. Women and girls are not recognized as people who can develop Malawi as a country through business. It’s for this reason that they often fail to start small businesses because they are not given the chance. For example, in most banks in Malawi, women are given smaller loans than men. Pamela Banda, age 18, a successful young lady operating a shop selling fashion items once experienced this challenge when getting a loan from the bank, but still managed to get a small loan from …

Urban Farming: Regeneration in our Cities

Grey. Angular. The low buzz of foot traffic, rubber-on-tar traffic, shoulders pushing against shoulders traffic. Did you see his face when he tried to smile at your across the street? Did you breathe in the blossoming jasmine that crept toward you at the bus stop? We navigate through cities, so loud yet full of silence. We have been waiting. Waiting for the earth to rise up against the pavements, to activate our joy and to remind us who we are and where we come from. We are nature. This is an unfolding narrative of the environmentally conscious and gradual movement that is Urban Farming. This is the remembered narrative of the female presence in the food system. Hailing from the mountainous green landscape of Barberton, Mpumalanga, South Africa, I have long held the forest as a close friend. Mother Earth can be said to have an innately powerful, fecund and peaceful presence. Plant life and forests are the ultimate reflection of matriarchy, pregnant with the life of a million organisms. My first encounter with a large …

10-Year-Old Girls are the Future of the World

According to the latest State of World Population by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), girls at the decisive age of 10 are the future of the world. At this age, girls are moving away from the world of childhood towards the world of adolescence and adulthood. In this season of life, it’s essential that girls be presented with opportunities, encouraged to dream big, given tools to pursue those dreams, and have access to education and health care. For many girls around the world, this phase of life is when they begin to face the reality of limited choices in life compared to boys and when they become more vulnerable to discrimination and gender violence. This reality needs to be changed, not only for the good of these girls, but also for the good of their societies and the world as a whole. Here are 4 reasons why investing in 10-year-old girls is good for the world: 1) Access to education is not only a human right, but it’s essential to helping girls achieve their full potential. …

A Smart Thing To Do: Data on Women in Higher Education & STEM

“When we talk about improving women’s lives, education is an issue that comes up over and over again as an equalizer, because when women and girls have access to an education, they can accomplish anything.” – United State of Women But do all forms of education create equity where gender disparities are greatest? Although we need to work toward improving women’s and girls’ access to education on all levels, real disparities deepen in secondary and higher education environments around the world. Significant progress has been made as 2/3 of developing nations have achieved gender parity when it comes to access to primary education. Despite significant progress made on girls’ school enrollment in the past decade, 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in developing countries. The situation is worst for the poorest rural girls in South and West Asia: only 13% complete lower secondary school. If we agree with UNICEF that educating girls is “both an intrinsic right and a critical lever to reaching other development objectives,” then advocating for a higher output …