Undoubtedly, advances are being made in recognising the importance of educating and empowering women to take a more active role in shaping society in the future.
However, in some societies, particularly in developing countries, such fundamental change is slow to take affect, mainly due to cultural and religious customs.
But there is a growing recognition of the importance of the role women play in educating their own children, particularly when they themselves have received even a basic education. All reports and studies recognise the advantages of educating girls for the betterment of society and their own children:
no tool more effective
“Study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutrition and promote health, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS”,
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General.
However, much more needs to be done to reach all segments of society, particularly those in poorly developed and disadvantaged communities. In Mukuru, girls face many additional obstacles to continuing their education, particularly as they grow older, including early marriage sexual abuse and pregnancy.
Girls have fewer opportunities of completing primary school or passing their primary exams (KCPE), a requirement to securing a place in secondary school. It has even been found in some cases that parents, when forced to choose, will often educate a son in preference to a daughter.
Although girls usually rank lower than boys in KCPE – not through any lack of ability or intelligence, but because of the obstacles they face – Harambee Mukuru has deliberately adopted the policy of ensuring that at least 50% of all scholarships are awarded to girls, and they are given every support possible in their educational development.
And we have found that once given the opportunity, girls compete very favourably with their male counterparts, and also with their classmates from more advantaged and affluent homes.