Helping girls to achieve their full potential and fulfil their dreams
Marshet Zelalem grew up in a rural village in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. In primary school, she lacked confidence, believing she could never do as well as the boys in her class. Today, Marshet is the president of the Children's Parliament and the spokesperson of the Women and Children's Bureau in the town of Tabor. She speaks out in public and explains with self-assurance and conviction why it is essential to support girls’ education and combat stereotypes that hinder their development.
She owes this self-confidence to the training she received as part of a UNESCO project, linked to the UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education signed between the HNA Group/Hainan Cihang Foundation and the Organization for an amount of 5 million dollars. The project aims to promote women's rights and gender-sensitive pedagogies and to develop communication skills, leadership, and creativity skills.
Now she is passing on these valuable life skills to 80 young members of the Children's Parliament.
Like Marshet, Meron Shegene and Eden Muket participated in a training course that gives girls the tools to succeed in their studies and achieve their life goals. For them, there was no question of waiting any longer to take action, so they decided to quickly put to use what they had learned in the training.
In their secondary school in Chagni, Ethiopia, Meron and Eden educate their peers daily about gender equality through literary works in the mini-media club. The library has since been taken over by the girls at the school and their academic performance is being affected positively.
Meron and Eden both have ambitions to become journalists in the future. By choosing this career path, Meron would like to make a greater impact in her country by addressing issues of gender discrimination in Ethiopia.
Bernice Impraim lives in Breman Asikuma, Ghana. Her dream? To become a doctor. But to do so, she has to overcome the prejudices that keep girls away from scientific and technological subjects and still too often dissuade them from taking such courses.
The figures available worldwide are telling: only 30% of female students enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related fields and less than 30% of the scientific community is composed of women. This situation is all the more alarming as STEM will be the most promising field in the next coming years, penalising those who have not been initiated into it.
To overcome these obstacles, UNESCO is organising - again as part of the UNESCO-HNA Partnership - STEM awareness days in three districts chosen for their low rate of girls' participation in STEM curricula. During these sessions, the girls conduct hands-on laboratory experiments in areas such as chemistry, physics and mathematics, after a demonstration by female teachers. It is an opportunity to talk to women who have studied science and to receive their valuable advice.
This was a valuable experience for Bernice, who drew extra motivation from her training day. Bernice is now studying science at Breman Asikuma High School in Ghana.
Similarly to Bernice, Bridget Tsagli was held back by the prejudices that undermined her confidence in pursuing scientific studies. She had come to learn about science at a STEM awareness day organised by the UNESCO in Ghana.
Determined to fulfil their dreams, Marshet, Meron, Eden, Bernice and Bridget have taken their destiny into their own hands. We wish them great success!