On the International Day of the Girl Child we reflect on the importance of empowering young women and girls and their basic right to equality and a life free from violence and discrimination.
In Ethiopia, girls and young women endure multiple layers of discrimination that pose as barriers to education and limit their opportunities in life, from early marriage, forced migration and female genital mutilation. This results in a huge lack of self-belief and confidence, as the girls – most of whom are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds – readily succumb to the plans of their family and therefore are unable to access and stay in education.
ChildHope partner organisation CHADET is addressing this through Girls’ Clubs, which provide a safe space for girls where they are able to learn about their rights and discuss their problems together. As a leader of one of the girls clubs states:
“‘I report any problems of female students to the female teacher who is Club coordinator. It helps us all to discuss out problems together. It also helps me to develop self-confidence and to protect my rights as a female student. My thinking about the rights of women has greatly been increased”
In addition, improving girls’ confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy has had a knock-on effect on literacy scores in school, as well as retention rates, as girls report feeling more confident in speaking up in class and many have been able to stand up to their parents which has reduced the risk early marriage and dropping out.
ChildHope and CHADET’s holistic approach, working with schools, communities, families and the girls themselves, has been incredibly powerful in challenging entrenched attitudes and harmful social norms that are restricting what girls are able to do and achieve. The success of the Girls’ clubs in particular shows the importance of self-belief and the positive impact it can have on young girls’ achievements.