The SOS Children’s Villages Liberia in collaboration with students from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States have concluded a one-month summer program. The summer program was a learning program that seeks to empower adolescent girls to be confident leader in their communities.
The forum which was held at the SOS Children’s Villages Liberia National office in Matadi under the theme “promoting education and cultivating leadership” brought together over thirty students from various high schools in Monrovia and its environs.
Speaking at the official closing program, one of Liberia’s youngest female Policy Analyst at the Governance Commission and Founder of Storm Cashia Venture and Consultancy, Janice C. Pratt encouraged the girls to go out to know their values and strength. She noted that “life is a game and we all are players on the field.” She told the girls to take charge of their lives.
She lamented “if you want to succeed, you should go out to grow, especially those of us who parents are not Bill Gates.” Adding “that winners never quit, therefore you should not be a quitter.” She made the statement when she severed as a guest speaker.
Addressing the participants, SOS Children’s Villages Liberia National Director, Mr. Augustine A. Allieu told the audience that some of the reasons why we must empower girl is as the result of the United Nations and Partners October 11, 2015 gathering which highlights the importance of girls to achieving the global goals for sustainable development. He noted “to reach our global goals, we have to reach girls.”
Adding “when girls are educated, healthy and empowered, families are healthier.” He maintained that indeed, the summer program is very much in line with the SOS global theory of change for youth development, which has “life skills development” as a key component. Adding “It is also in line with the SOS Care promise framework, part of which is about child development.”
Mr. Allieu explained that equally important also is the fact that the summer program which also include vacation basketball clinic contributes very well to the SOS Liberia Youth Empowerment Porgramme. Noting that “part of the activities of SOS Youth Empowerment Programme is to provide life skills education and confidence-building to young people as a way to ensuring that they succeed in life.”
The SOS Liberia National Director concluded by saying he feels proud to partner with the students from the University of Pennsylvania through the Promoting Education And Cultivating Empowerment project known as P.E.A.C.E. while at the same time thanked the regional office of SOS WCAF region and SOS USA for initiating the process.
In a brief remark, the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Andy Kwamie urged the girls to be ambassador of change. He therefore asked that the girls to share the knowledge learned and their skills their friends and the community.
At the same time, Director of Adolescent Girls at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Madam Hawa Dunor Varney thanks SOS Liberia and her partners for organizing the program. She admonished the students from “PENN State University” and other partners to always partner with SOS Children’s Villages Liberia to reach more children.
For their part, the Students from the University of Pennsylvania extolled the SOS Children’s Villages for the support to P.E.A.C.E to facilitate such an important girls empowerment program and appealed to the organization through it head for more collaborations, adding that “they are hoping that the program will be impactful and the knowledge acquired, will constructively benefit the participants.”
When girls are educated, healthy and empowered, families are healthier. According to the United Nations Education Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 2.1 million children under age 5 were saved between 1990 and 2009 because of improvements in girls’ education. There are also 34 million female adolescents out of secondary school, missing out on the chance to learn vital skills for work. Two-thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world are female says UNESCO.
The October 2015 (UNESCO) report and fact sheet states there are still 31 million girls of primary school age out of school. Of these 17 million are expected never to enter school. While 4 million fewer boys than girls out of school. The report indicated that there are three countries that have over a million girls not in school. They are Nigeria, Pakistan and Ethiopia. The report cited that in Nigeria there are almost five and a half million, Pakistan, over three million, and in Ethiopia, over one million girls out of school.
According to Christina Kwauk, postdoctoral fellow for the Center for Universal Education in the Global Economy and Development program, in Sept. 2017 Brookings report noted that promoting girls’ reproductive rights, investing in girls’ education, and developing girls’ life skills for a green economy are effective strategies for mitigating the effects of climate change.
October 11 is marked as the International Day of the Girl (IDG). The day highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. Since October 11, 2012 the day has been celebrated amongst organizations, especially NGOs that focus on child rights, development and girls empowerment.
To achieve gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals, UNICEF and partners recognize that it is essential to support and invest in girls by transforming the risks and deprivations they face – from preventing and responding to gender-based violence to advancing adolescent girls’ secondary education – into pathways towards a better life.
By: Joseph J.B. Joboe, Communication & Brand Coordinator
SOS Children’s Villages Liberia