Low-cost education and involving men – how to empower girls

October 14, 2014
The Guardian
Carla Kweifio-Okai
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Gender equality has received global attention in the past month, with education campaigner Malala Yousafzai awarded a Nobel peace prizeand UN goodwill ambassador Emma Watson’s speech on equality. To mark the international day of the girl, we asked students what action they would propose to empower girls around the world, if they had the stage.

We received more than 30 submissions from young people in more than 15 countries. Ideas included community mentoring programmes, helping women reach leadership positions, supporting female farmers and tackling the taboos associated with menstruation. Below are our five favourite responses.

Involve men and boys

After many years and a lot of effort to empower girls and women, it has become clear that men need to be included. I would plan outreach campaigns in my local county with both boys and girls to discuss the issues girls face just for being born girls. I would further solicit ideas on the views of participants on how best to handle this issue to protect girls and women against sexual and gender-based violence. Now more than ever, men must be included in this important conversation of ending violence against girls and women.

Stronger societies will emerge from joint efforts to empower the girl child by advocating for protection from those who potentially turn against her – men. The invitation has been put out by Emma Watson; I would take that further, go local, because whatever decisions are reached in the powerful capitals of the world will be futile unless action is followed through in rural areas.

Wanja Munaita, Royal Roads University, Canada

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