Young girls who enter their adolescent stage without preparation are affected by unemployment, domestic violence and can’t realize their socio and economic potential. Girls’ education is still a challenge; girls continue to lag behind boys in education and employment because they lack the technical and social skills to compete favorably. This is attributed to factors such as; late entry into school, low self esteem early pregnancy and child marriages. These challenges increase their vulnerability and affect their entire well being. Girls aged 10 to 14 already experience high levels of vulnerability. Interventions that start at age 15 begin too late to be considered effective preventive strategies against school dropout, child marriage, early childbearing, poor health, and continued poverty.
Issues concerning girls and women are and continue to be guaranteed in various international and national laws, policies and conventions. Here in Uganda, our government is signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 2010 Dakar Declaration, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Education for All Framework (EFA) among others. In 2013, the National Strategy for Girls’ education was reviewed and a strategic plan was developed to address the critical challenges facing the girl child.
Therefore as duty bearers in girls education it is important to support especially young girls from disadvantaged families/communities to be able to realize their life goals by equipping them with essential life and economic/vocational skills. Starting with basic skills that ease retention and completion for example teaching girls to make a local pad or start and manage an IGA to cater for their basic school and personal needs. These skills will not only help them stay in school and complete but will also promote independent living in the near future and increase their representation in the gender just society.
Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation has a strong strategic emphasis on adolescent girls and aspires to support them as they journey through their education cycle, prepare them for formal and self employment through vocational and life skills training alongside mentoring. Girls education is dear to TMF, because when girls are educated or skilled, their families are healthier and they have more opportunities to generate income in adulthood. An educated girl pays it forward thus creating a ripple effect!
We each have a role to play in ensuring that girls go to and stay in school until completion. Let us invest in adolescent girls’ development, ensure that girls can go to school, stay healthy, and learn important skills that will help them break the poverty cycle.