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Standing up for girls’ right to education in Ethiopia

Girls’ clubs are giving female teens a safe haven

By Semereta Sewasew, communications manager, Ethiopia

It’s important to create equal access to education for girls in Ethiopia — far too important to ignore.

So, last year Christian Children’s Fund of Canada established 18 girls’ clubs and Child Protection Committees, encouraging and empowering more than 6,200 girls at nearly 20 schools.

Samrawit is one of those girls. She’s the chair of her school’s girls’ club, but all its members are empowered to exercise their leadership skills and talk about issues affecting their lives. They work closely with the Parent Teacher Association to convince parents to send their daughters to school, among other issues.

“Consultation solves everything,” says Samrawit, an eighth grader. “Our club is playing an important role in [breaking down] school-based and community-based barriers to girls’ education such as early marriage, gender-based violence and stereotypes limiting women in our community.”

Samrawit works with teachers to counsel her peers and their parents about the impact of harmful traditional practices. “We hold discussions [about] peer pressure and other issues that might affect the performance of girls in school,” says the teen.

Girls used to be afraid to discuss issues such as menstruation and sanitary kits, which meant many of them didn’t have supplies and couldn’t go to school during their cycle. So, Samrawit and the teachers in charge of the girls club shared in an open discussion about the issue and distributed sanitary pads.

Whatever the issue — whether menstruation or early, forced marriage — girls in Samrawit’s school are being empowered to make their own change, finish school, chase their dreams and reach their full potential.

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About Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For more than 55 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, donors and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.