Three years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child! This days' purpose is to globally recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges they face around the world. Due to lack of education, many women are unable to find employment and are financially destitute. However, thanks to innovative education programs around the world, rural women are now given a chance to develop and expand on skills that will make them desierable for employment.
By creating opportunities for girls to learn technical, vocational skills, and non-cognitive skills valued by employers, women's chances of employment are growing. Check out these 5 different programs around the world that are teaching women skills for employability, as well as giving them a fair chance at a equal world.
Technogirls | South African students perform poorly in math and science, subjects that are needed for an engineering degree. Girls are at a larger disadvantage when it comes to technical professions as they are not encouraged to study or do well in traditionally male-dominated subjects such as math, science, and technology. This compromises their future career opportunities and resigns them to lower-paying jobs. To combat this, the South African Department of Education and UNICEF created Technogirls, a program that identifies high achieving 15–18 year old South African school girls from disadvantaged communities, especially those coming from rural areas. The program places girls in corporate mentorship and skills development programs where they learn science, technology, and engineering skills and also benefit from academic scholarships. Read more about Technogirls here.
Wedu Fund | Wedu Fund helps finance higher education for underprivileged young women from Asia's least developed countries. Wedu matches program participants with lifelong mentors who meet with participants twice per month to help develop personal and leadership skills. The mentorship aspect of the program provides critical, and often lacking, support to help students navigate through their university education and achieve individual goals. The first meeting of each month is dedicated to personal development and incorporates short- and long-term goal-setting exercises. The second meeting of each month centers on leadership development using an Wedu's original conversation-based curriculum, which covers topics that include identity, empathy, religious pluralism, and human rights and democracy. Learn more about Wedu Fund here.
Uganda Rural Development and Training Programme (URDT) | URDT is a network of 5 schools that aims to empower marginalized people ages 10-25 living in rural communities in Uganda by providing education, skills training, and rural development interventions. URDT's students are 70% female and the program uses a people-centered approach by combining rural development projects with consciousness-raising, training, education, and information sharing to facilitate integrated, self-directed, and sustainable development in surrounding communities. The program also provides students financial and material support, as well as in extracurricular activities such as the school farm. Students practice their skills at home to improve overall family income, health, and literacy. One specific aim of this program is to keep girls in school for a longer period of time so parents can see the return on investment. Read more about URDT here.
GetSetGo Women's Library and Learning Center | GetSetGo is a unique, 24-hour-a-day learning hub and library for under-educated women in the urban center and surrounding communities of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Founded in 2009, GetSetGo pairs women's advocacy work with its learning center. GetSetGo's library opened in 2010 and its full-service center utilizes a computer lab, reading room, teaching kitchen, and ample education technologies that offer women an array of free classes on top of regular access to learning materials they cannot afford or find elsewhere. The learning center's services incorporate a range of subjects and skills development, including education technology, life skills coursework, rural outreach, and staff training programs. GetSetGo's programs seek to fight gender disparity in education, better prepare women for the workplace, and prevent wage theft and sex trafficking. Learn more about GetSetGo Women's Library and Learning Center here.
BRAC's Adolescent Development Program | The Adolescent Development Program is a multi-faceted program that targets adolescents aged 11 to 19, building their soft skills and employability through life skills-based education. The program launched in Bangladesh and has since expanded to Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The program runs Adolescent Clubs, which are safe centers where girls have an opportunity to socialize and interact, engage in cultural activities, and have open discussions with each other regarding social and personal issues. The program has collaborated with Bangladesh's Ministry of Youth and Sport to provide livelihood training courses in many sectors, including tailoring, embroidery, journalism, poultry and livestock raising, beautician services, photography, ICT, and baking. Read more about BRAC's Adolescent Development Program here.
To learn more about this topic, check out the following programs and resources on the CEI website:
- School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA) the first boarding school for girls in Afghanistan, pairs its comprehensive curriculum with national education improvement programs. SOLA students supplement basic subjects with leadership training, civic engagement, and skills-based classes that prepare students to excel at institutions of higher education.
- Yuwa: Kicking it New School uses soccer as a vehicle to bring girls together in a supportive and safe context by working to increase school attendance and empower and equip girls with the life skills they need to pursue further studies, secure employment, and break through social constraints. (photo above)
- Children and Youths Empowerment Network supports the community and the youth in the Korogocho slum of Nairobi through participatory projects in creative arts, counseling, peer education, entrepreneurship training, urban governance, and girls' basic education.
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