‘When women and girls rise, their communities and countries rise with them.”
The words of Michelle Obama hold within them the roots and foundations of what it takes to make the world great. Educate a girl and she can go forth and change the world. I remember watching an UNICEF advertisement depicting a woman being surrounded by cameras and reporters congratulating her on a scientific breakthrough that could potentially change the face of medicine. The camera’s then stop flashing, and the woman’s voice becomes that of a child exclaiming ‘there is no break through…. I died at the age of 8.’ The tone becomes haunting and the camera focuses on the innocent face of a child. What rings true in the world we live in today is the fact that 62 million girls in the world are denied the human right of education. The reasons ranging from poverty, lack of health care, forced marriage and/or simply because they are girls. Here are some statistics :
15 year old girls and older make up 2/3 of the world’s illiterate population (493 million)
In Kenya, an estimated 3.5 million children are in the labor market, and school drop outs are on the ride
33% of girls in Kenya have been raped by the time they have reached the age of 18
The number one killer of girls under the age of 15 is early childhood births
1.6 million people are living with HIV in Kenya. 65% of the children living with HIV are on the anti-retroviral therapy and an estimated 660,000 are orphaned because of it.
Condensing these obstacles and evaluating them alongside the fact that even when there is the ability and resources to educate girls, investment tends to be directed at boys , it is clear that what the world is telling females that they are the undervalued gender and life is something that will be difficult and unfair to navigate. The denial of access to education fuels gender-based violence, and this leads to an increase in inequality further preventing female assertion in relationships, domestic life and the work place.
However there is hope, there is a pathway to change. Female education and communal support is the answer. One such example of this is the Light of Hope School in Kenya that empowers the young girls. It strives to help these young women and their families break away from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse. It’s is a school that offers its students ‘more than academic enrichment.’
‘We care for the whole girl, providing food, shelter, health care, counseling, faith, and education in a safe and loving family environment. What’s more, thanks to our partnership with Elimu Foundation, we’re able to support each girl’s higher education aspirations, giving her the tools she needs to live a rich and full life.’
School’s like the Light of Hope School, are changing the world because they are giving girls access to education so they can grow and dream, and become the women who will make a dent in the universe unapologetically, fiercely, and with supreme excellence.