Ms. President: Preparing girls for politics

Help convene the first ever “Girls Political Conference” for rural girls in Kenya

Why we care: Girls in iGLOW’s target areas face harsh living conditions, have high school dropout rates and many marry and become mothers before the age of 18. 

How we’re solving this:  Providing leadership and political skills training to 500 girls at a three-day conference to enable girls to recognize their self-worth, abilities and immense career and leadership possibilities. 

iGLOW (Girls Leading Our World Initiatives) believes that unless girls are prepared and inspired from a young age to broaden their horizon of possibilities and see themselves as leaders, including actively participating in politics, the cycle of poverty and poor governance will persist in Kenya.  iGLOW’s approach uses young people to motivate the younger generation. We position ambassadors, young female and male role models who have recently graduated from university, as the inspiration for empowering young rural girls. We recruit exceptional ambassadors from all backgrounds with a passion for political leadership and girl’s empowerment to connect with the girls by facilitating iGLOW trainings and sharing their personal leadership and educational journeys.

With an overall aim of motivating girls to take on the mantle of leadership from a very young age, and building on iGLOWs momentum of the last two years, this project will help convene the first ever “Girls Political Conference” in December 2013 that will bring together 40 iGLOW ambassadors and a total of 500 rural girls between the ages of 11 and 18 with an interest in political leadership to dive deeper into iGLOW’s mission through three days of powerful female speakers and skill-based workshops meant to hone their leadership skills. The conference will be the first step in forging a powerful girl’s political platform bringing together the rural girls with leadership aspirations and connecting them with youth ambassadors and powerful women leaders from different political parties, sectors and regions. Conference sessions will cover topics including:

  • Ms. President: Why we need more girls in political leadership
  • Kenyan women in political office
  • Global female leaders
  • Effecting change in your community
  • Sharing your ideas on local and global issues
  • Leading with others
  • Issue advocacy 
  • Running for political office
  • Running for school office and starting a school club
  • Public speaking and messaging

As the only program in Kenya that focuses on girl’s political preparation, iGLOW’s hands-on leadership program continues to build a strong cadre of confident young girls and women who will be at the forefront of societal change. Girls who become empowered as political change agents, not only become active citizens, but also motivate their parents and friends to become more informed and more active.  Thus, the program has a large spillover effect that will encourage positive political engagement beyond the individual girls.

Budget breakdown:

  • Stationery costs include folders, writing pads and pens for 550 people at $1.50 per person
  • Food costs will cover meals for 3 days for 550 people during the conference
  • Transport costs include bus hire and fuel and will cover the transport for 500 girls, 40 ambassadors and 10 speakers

Empowering Maasai girls through education

Maasai girls face many challenges because of cultural traditions such as female genital mutilation and forced early marriage, which prevent girls from continuing education.

Why we care: The Maasai community has the highest rate of child marriage in Kenya, with 90% of young girls undergoing female genital mutilation, getting married and dropping out of school.

How we are solving this: Changing the paradigm for girls’ education and learning in rural Kenya. 

Kakenya Center for Excellence is the only primary boarding school for girls in Enoosaen, Kenya, with 155 students enrolled in grades 4 to 8. The school serves the area’s most vulnerable and underprivileged girls and focuses on academic excellence, health education, female empowerment, leadership and community development. Through education, Kakenya Center for Excellence is providing girls with the tools they need to become agents of change and to break the destructive cycle of cultural practices, such as female genital cutting and forced early marriage.

Unlike the overcrowded neighboring schools, Kakenya Center for Excellence provides child-centered learning through small classes under the guidance of trained teachers. The classrooms and dormitory are in a secure environment, creating a safe haven for the girls to thrive, grow and pursue their dreams. Kakenya Center for Excellence provides all students the necessities needed to attend school—school fees, uniforms, school supplies, textbooks and three nutritious meals a day.

This project will help pay for the 36 girls in our fifth grade class to attend Kakenya Center for Excellence next year.  The funds for this project will help purchase uniforms, food for one year, books and supplies, and personal care items for 36 students. In addition, it will cover the salary of one teacher at the school. These fifth graders have created a strong bond with one another in their two years at the Kakenya Center for Excellence and their cohesiveness and sense of community has had a  palpable and contagious effect on our student body.   

 “My favorite thing here is learning. My favorite subject is science because we get to do a lot of experiments here. This school is better than other schools because the teachers actually teach and the students are better because they help each other.”  — Helen, Kakenya Center for Excellence, Grade 5

Helen’s  description of KCE exemplifies how access to quality education helps students build the confidence they need to succeed.  By remaining in school, we know that our students will marry later and have fewer children. Their children will be healthier and better educated than the previous generation. They will not circumcise their daughters.

Educating girls is the single most effective way to reduce poverty, improve health and bring development to communities worldwide.

Help 100 girls and women in Afghanistan

Restore the lives of women who have suffered from gender based violence and extreme human rights abuse in Afghanistan by providing recovery services and education.

Why we care:  Afghanistan today is not just one of the poorest countries in the world, but also has the worst human development indicators. 

How we’re solving this:  Providing a holistic and empowering support program through the Transitional Care Centre (TCC) to women and children who have been victims of or are at risk of gender based violence (GBV) and other human rights abuses.

Afghanistan is recovering from the devastating impact of decades of war.  The low regard that society gives to women, male domination in the family, gender based violence, cultural traditions and low self-esteem of women themselves, along with absence of adequate support to address injustices, contribute to the continuation of women’s inability to exercise their rights.  

Hagar has been working in Afghanistan since 2007 and has set up a Transitional Care Centre to provide recovery services and support to survivors of GBV and other extreme human rights abuse.  Women are provided with psychosocial care, access to medical care and legal services.  The goal of the program is to improve literacy and provide life skills, catch-up and general educational opportunities.  The Transitional Care Centre also links girls and women to Hagar’s Empowering Women towards Economic Participation (EWEP) program – which provides work readiness training, internships, on-the-job training and work placements.

At the Transitional Care Centre we will provide tailored care for:

  • 15 women to receive catch-up education classes and/or literacy classes;
  • 25 children to receive catch-up and/or general education classes;
  • 15 adolescent girls to receive catch-up education classes and/or literacy classes;
  • 10 women (not of school age) to receive ongoing basic education classes;
  • 20 women/girls to receive participatory life skills learning;
  • and 15 women to access work readiness training opportunities as well as on-the-job training, internships and work placements.

By providing education and employment opportunities for women, Hagar empowers each person to grow in confidence and provide for herself and her family with dignity.  Through education and economic independence the program seeks to create social reintegration where each individual feels safe again and plays an active role in society.  

Win back 6 weeks of school per year for girls in Kenya

ZanaAfrica is innovating a radically affordable sanitary pad to help more Kenyan girls stay in school.

Why we care: Sanitary pads are out of reach for four out of five girls and women in Kenya whose families live below the poverty line. Girls miss six weeks of school due to their inability to manage their period, and drop out at twice the rate as boys.

How we are solving:  $15 a year keeps a girl in school anywhere in Kenya. This $15 gives her 120 pads, three underpants, and standardized health education.  

News reports show girls are often forced to choose to stay home or engage in transactional sex to afford pads. One million girls in Kenya are in this situation. We think this is a human rights issue.

Providing pads plus health education reclaims 6 weeks of school, helping girls to graduate and step into the promise of their future.

Our goal is 10,000 girls by January – starting here with 1,000 girls.

Our process innovation combines three critical components. First, we are innovating a locally made, radically affordable sanitary pad to sustainably support girls and women. Rather than using expensive wood pulp, which is what is in current sanitary pads, we have created an absorbent layer made from non-wood fibers reducing the cost of the pads 40%.

Second, with the Egyptian-based textile company, Transformation Textiles, we are also innovating inexpensive cotton underpants by making underpants from excess quality fabrics that would have been discarded.

Last, our comic-based health pamphlets, distributed in pad packages, provide vital information in a fun, standardized way that girls can read in private, refer, back to, and share with friends and family.

Through this project, we will distribute 120,000 sanitary pads and 3,000 underpants to 1,000 girls, starting in January 2014– the commencement of the Kenyan school year. This is 10% of our 2014 goal.

We’ll continue our work in pad distribution with vetted grass-roots partner organizations, which mentor and support girls in their communities. These include organizations such as Lifting the Barriers, Mully Children’s Family and Path to Womanhood. You’ll be able to track distribution activities that you’ve made possible through our mobile app

This year we distributed 6,500 annual supplies of pads, underpants, and health education. With your help, lets make a big step toward serving 1,000 more girls in January 2014.