International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated each year on March 8th. vIt is a day with a rich history. Held since the early 1900s, International Women’s Day is a celebration to recognize, fight for and stand in solidarity for women's rights and opportunities.
However you choose to celebrate, it is an important day to say we are here, we stand in solidarity, we love each other and we all matter.
We at Global Education Fund celebrate and salute the millions of women and men, and the millions of girls and boys of all ages, from all walks of life, from rural and urban areas, and across all countries who are tackling issues related to gender equity whether at home, in neighborhoods, at work and beyond. We believe that special recognition should be given to the many girls and women who act as inspirational role models for other girls, women, boys and men. We know they must often carry out these efforts with courage, persistence and hope — and often under the most difficult and challenging circumstances.
We don’t have to look far to find such individuals who inspire us at GEF. They are present and indeed are multiplying within each of our partners every day and year. That is the exciting thing about positive role models and leaders - they inspire others to advocate for change, to journey down unfamiliar roads, and to be courageous and hopeful in the face of naysayers and daunting obstacles.
Here are just two examples of amazing work from our partners -
Guru-G's SuperTeens pilot – now in its second year - aims to empower middle school girls by strengthening their understanding and knowledge related to their own physical, emotional and social development, their health and hygiene, and by engaging the girls in regular discussion and reflection with regards to their education, their rights and their aspirations. The sessions also encourage the girls to think about how they themselves can enact change in their own lives and in their schools and communities. Various gender issues are embedded across the modules in ways that work in the local rural contexts.
Guru-G is in the second phase of piloting the SuperTeen modules. The Guru-G team continues to work with girls in grades 5-8 across 18 schools; and now have also included the 9th grade girls continuing their curriculum from 8th grade. This year they are reaching over 977 girls compared to 700 in the first year. In addition, they are including selected teachers in the pilot this year with an aim to have teachers implement the SuperTeens modules within the next two years. Eventually, Guru-G hopes to make the SuperTeens program available to hundreds of other teachers across more than 500 schools who are currently using the Guru-G teacher development and support platform and app.
Our visits to the program and discussions with staff show that Guru-G is already inspiring young girls. You may remember Mamatha whose story we shared last year — and how through participation in the SuperTeens program she has begun to see herself as a peer support to other girls.
You can check out a new video created by the Guru-G team highlighting the SuperTeens program here.
Peggy Mativo Ochola - PACEmaker’s young female social entrepreneur from Nairobi, Kenya was awarded a scholarship for exceptional African women to study at Harvard. Towards the end of 2012 while at Harvard, Peggy began to formulate a dream of starting up her own NGO that would take advantage of a gap year between when students finish high school and before they enter university. Peggy believed that these recent graduates could provide a much needed service as ‘teacher aides' to under-resourced and overcrowded primary school classrooms. At the same time, Peggy knew these young women and men could benefit from career planning, communication development, leadership and entrepreneurship training along with a sense of community and giving back. This conviction and passion led to the start-up of PACEmaker, International in 2013. GEF began to partner with PACE at the end of 2015 and we have seen their work begin to grow, evolve and change lives both of the youth and of the primary students involved.
Peggy has become a role model for the youth involved in the PACE program. She has inspired many of the alumni to start up their own social initiatives - often while they are pursuing a college degree.
In 2017, PACE is working with 130 youth volunteers who are supporting teachers across 25 public schools and mentoring and tutoring over 6,000 primary school students.
As an educated Kenyan woman, a social entrepreneur, and someone who believes deeply in the value of voluntary service — we salute Peggy and her team for showing what the power of an educated woman can be for herself, her family and for her community and country. It is no wonder that in 2015, Peggy was recognized as one of the 40 under 40 Top Young Kenyan Women.
Video: PACEmaker volunteers at a training session.