On this International Women's Day, we pay tribute to the resilience and commitment of the women we work with in our school communities in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, to implement our project funded by the UK government through DFID’s Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC). These powerful women and girls -- including students, teachers and youth mentors -- refuse to give up on girls’ right to education despite many obstacles. Their achievements inspire us on Women’s Day and every day of the year. Here are some of their stories.
Veronica, a student in Kenya, was once unable to read a full sentence despite being in standard 6. Her parents barely make ends meet as daily wage earners -- her father is a mason and mother sells produce on the street. They had high hopes for their daughter to finish school, but Veronica struggled in her lessons, and suffered from low self-confidence due to her inability to read.
In 2018, Veronica began attending Impact(Ed)-supported remedial learning classes at her school with teachers trained by the project. Since then, she has made remarkable improvements in her reading and composition writing skills.
Veronica reads a textbook in her classroom. Photo: Impact(Ed) International
Her teacher also reports a dramatic improvement in her confidence.
“Veronica has become very jovial. She’s now active during lessons, and also responds to questions unlike before when she stayed quiet and was afraid to speak in class.”
Veronica, seen on right, has been noted as more confident since she learned to read. Photo: Impact(Ed) International
With her new skills, Veronica likes to read the Bible and stories about helping others and her favorite animal: bats! Her favorite storybooks are The 12 Dancing Princesses and Cinderella. She has also discovered a love for acting, and wants to be a professional actor when she grows up.
Veronica says one of the biggest advantages of attending school is that she has learned how to take care of herself and stay clean. “I have also learned how to take care of the environment,” she adds.
When asked why learning to read was so important to her, Veronica said:
“When I become literate, I’ll be able to read my emails, become independent, and learn so many things about life!
Sixteen-year old Felicity* in Ghana was one of the top scoring students in her junior secondary school when she became pregnant. She soon dropped out of school following threats from some family members, even temporarily moving out of her community. Her once bright future now seemed unattainable.
But the teachers at Felicity's school, which receives support from Impact(Ed) as part of the GEC, refused to give up on her. Her principal personally went to meet with her and convinced her to return to school. Felicity decided to return, following which she received regular counseling and learning support from her principal and teachers to get back on track.
Today, Felicity attends school with her baby in tow and is once again on a path to finishing school. She then plans to become a nurse, a goal she says was inspired by one of Impact(Ed)’s educational videos on career choices that she watched at her school with her girls’ club.
“I am happy to be back to school,” Felicity says. “I am now determined to achieve my ambition to become a nurse!”
When Khadijah,* a member of a girls’ association at a school in Nigeria, watched My Better World, a new animated series by Impact(Ed) to teach life skills to young people, she shared a secret with her mentor.
A screening of My Better World in a classroom in Nigeria. Photo: Impact(Ed) International
The series, which is based on the life skills curriculum by CAMFED, featured a story about the risk of early marriage among girls in Africa. Fourteen year old Khadijah told the mentor about her own approaching wedding. The mentor, who had received training by Impact(Ed) in leading dialogue on the topics featured in the series, jumped to action. Along with the school’s head teacher, she met with Khadijah's uncle and parents, who had made the wedding arrangements, to convince them to change their plans.
As a result of these efforts, the marriage was deferred, and Khadijah recently graduated from primary and entered junior secondary school. She remains in school to this day.
We are proud to support these and thousands of other women and girls across the African continent in achieving their potential -- and helping each other achieve theirs. Happy International Women’s Day!
*Name has been changed to protect the student's privacy.