International Women's Day 2019 - Focus on: Girls' Education

At African Children’s Fund, we fundamentally believe that access to education will change the world.

Girl with a blue blouse under how brown school dress, hair in braids, sitting in front of a brick wall.

However, with UNESCO projecting that 15 million primary-aged girls are not attending school globally - and over half of these in Sub-Saharan Africa - there are still challenges ahead to ensure that the next generation of women have every chance to succeed.

Poverty remains a major factor in girls’ education and as our established Education All Month, Every Month programme shows, a problem as simple as a lack of affordable sanitary towels can make the difference between a girl completing her primary education and dropping out of school altogether.

First periods are a stressful time in any girl’s life but add acute poverty into the mix and you have a seriously miserable situation. Many families simply can’t afford sanitary towels - or even underwear - and feeding their children has to take priority. Many girls use unsanitary rags, animal skins or even chicken feathers as protection while they menstruate which all too frequently fails to do its intended job and increases the risk of infection.

This makes the prospect of going to school while menstruating impossible.

Many girls consequently miss one week of school each month and they fall so far behind their peers that they drop out of school completely.

Yet the completion of primary education and enrolment into secondary school provides numerous long-term benefits that impact a girl’s future.

A girl wearing a brown jumper over white collars of her brown & white checked school dress, smiling

While numeracy and literacy skills are crucial, attending school is about far more than simply learning to read and write. Schools provide a safe-haven for children who could otherwise be at risk of abuse and exploitation on the streets. Schools teach children how to build relationships. Schools provide a range of life skills as we have witnessed first hand through Education All Month, Every Month discussion forums. Schools encourage creativity through play.

These skills give a woman a better opportunity to compete for jobs. These skills empower her to make decisions for the benefit of her family and direct community.

Women who have been educated as girls are likely to earn significantly more money than their uneducated counterparts. They are less likely to marry and give birth while still a girl (let’s not forget complications in pregnancy is still one of the biggest causes of death in adolescent girls in Sub-Saharan Africa). They are less vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and disease. They are more likely to be healthy.

The incredible ripple effect of education means an educated woman’s children are also more likely to go to school. And so the cycle continues.

A donation of just £5 per month will provide a girl with sanitary towels, underwear and a health and education forum to discuss girls’ rights. A donation of just £5 per month will empower the next generation of women. A donation of just £5 per month will even empower the generation after that.

As our Education All Month, Every Month programme expands from 400 girls in 8 schools in Kenya to 450 girls in 10 schools in Kenya and Tanzania, please click the button below to set-up a monthly donation to enable girls born into poverty to change the world!