Today, around the world, it’s hoped that one billion girls, boys, women and men, will join the one billion rising campaign –a global, connected movement to end violence, rape and abuse against girls and women.
This represents a global outcry to bring an end to behaviours that affect one in three girls and women on a daily basis.
One billion voices must lead to action
Abusive and discriminatory behaviours, low literacy levels and a myriad obstacles placed on girls and women from the early years, all serve as barriers for empowerment. In education, the scale of the challenge remaining is considerable.
Around the world, more women than men are illiterate. Many countries display extreme gender disparity, with fewer than seven literate women for every ten literate men.
Worryingly, 32.1 million primary-age girls are out of school – representing more than half of the out-of-school population – and 34.2 million adolescent girls are out of secondary school. If the same number of girls were in primary schools as boys, an additional 3.6 million children would be in school, enjoying their right to education.
Today, the UK government launched the Girls Education Challenge Fund – an initiative to ensure over 670,000 girls are able to rise to their potential in 22 countries.
Urgent action needed
In Mozambique, over half the population is extremely poor and levels of discrimination and abuse against women are very high. Girls’ access to school serves as a key example: they represent 66% of primary-aged children who are out of school. Girls represent higher drop-out rates, especially in rural areas where poverty is more acute. One in three girls don’t reach grade five (age 10/11), and only one in four get into secondary school.
In partnership with the Mozambique government and local organisations, Save the Children has launched a three-year project to boost efforts to ensure more girls and young women are given equal opportunities to go to school, learn, complete a full cycle of primary education, and transition into secondary.
The project is financed through the Girls Education Challenge Fund,which represents a crucial investment in Mozambique’s choice to build a stronger future for girls and young women.
It will address five key components, aiming to tackle the multiple barriers affecting girls’ education.
The five components
It will first and foremost secure access for those who haven’t gone to school. Education kits will be given to girls who are out of school; bursaries given to girls in secondary schools; and cultural misperceptions and awareness on the importance of girls’ right to education will be addressed through community-led radio and awareness events.
Crucially, it will guarantee safety in schools. Training in schools will make the environment safer and girls will be get the opportunity to participate more fully at school, forming clubs to support each other and make sure their voices are heard. Increasing safety will ensure girls can study without the fear of violence and abuse, and girls themselves will influence these changes.
To ensure girls succeed throughout their education, it will strengthen retention and learning outcomes. Catch-up classes will be provided in areas with high drop-out rates, girls will access homework clubs, and a special emphasis will be placed on building literacy environments at school and in communities. Additionally, we’ll boost literacy through a focus on learning to read and reading to learn, guaranteeing girls achieve good learning outcomes.
Given the crucial role played by the teaching profession, the project will focus on training and strengthening the capacity of head teachers, district education staff, school inspectors and teacher trainers on gender equality in education and teaching; as well as on teaching to read and learn to strengthen children’s learning outcomes.
Finally, to guarantee that many more girls and young women will benefit from this initiative, it will focus on building policy and national level change, particularly by providing evidence on how to tackle and remove the systemic barriers affecting girls’ education. This will in turn assist the government to build on this initiative and make national changes that guarantee all girls have equal opportunities to succeed.
We know that girls’ education, including access and learning, is one of the best long-term investments we can make to ensure girls build their skills and they feel empowered to achieve their potential.
Today, as one billion people dance, shout and rise to call for an end to discrimination against women, an education-focused movement will ensure girls and young women rise and achieve their full potential in Mozambique.