One of our young entrepreneurs, Mariam, who runs a tailoring shop and a women’s group is very firmly in contact with the community where she lives and does business. She is known for helping several children go to school and teaching others her tailoring skills and is often approached by grandparents and parents about their girls who are idle because of poverty. Some of the young teenage girls have come to her shop wondering what to do with themselves. Their circumstance is not of their own making.
Why are young teenage girls being left out? It is an outcome of African tradition. In East Africa the boys stay within their family for life, inheriting the family land. The girls will be given away to husbands of other families and go to be with them and leave their home and family of birth. When money is limited, the boys are helped first because it’s an investment in the core family which will not be lost. So boys are given priority for attending school in a continent where you must pay school fees because there is no free secondary education. But let us also acknowledge that in the poorest communities the biggest enemy of the girl is poverty itself.
What prospects are there? Unfortunately, the options for young teenage girls are to become (or be made) pregnant, to be given/taken in early marriage or to be sent to Saudi Arabia as maids (slaves). The adverts are everywhere and when you are in poverty anything seems better, but of course we know that is not the case.
Afrinspire programmes are targeting the girls first and we are keen to act through our local partners in community. The attempt here is to rescue young girls between the ages of 11 and 16. Mariam visits the homes, interviews and identifies the neediest. She is arranging for each to go back to school. For example, it costs £180 for someone to attend Senior 4 for one year, being the last year to achieve 'O levels'. Right now we have three other younger girls to help which requires £270 for the whole of 2020 to keep them in school. Our partners have the knowledge of the community to identify those most at risk. If you are able to help in any way please email us.
To read of another initiative by our young entrepreneurs to help young girls click here. Names have been withheld for safeguarding reasons.