#FortunateFriday: School Girls Unite

It is said that if you empower a woman, you are empowering a nation.  In Australia, we are so fortunate to be able to (almost) freely do whatever we want as females. We could study without the huge barriers that our sisters in some parts of the world face. We can climb corporate ladders without the same hurdles that our counterparts in some parts of the world may face. We can do pretty much whatever a man can do. Aren’t we pretty damn lucky!

This week, our #FortunateFriday feature is an organisation that is bold for change. School Girls Unite, which was founded by a group of 12-year-old girls (yes, you did read that right – 12-years-old!) in the United States in 2004. This amazing organisation’s slogan “there’s no minimum age for leadership” encourages young people (both men and women) to pursue lasting community change locally and globally.

School Girls Unite’s Philosophy

Members of the organisation embrace a philosophy of ‘Pride Not Pity’. Which is so very noble because so many people (myself included) who may have the best of intentions can at times, whether knowingly or not treat those that they are helping with pity and those that are accepting this help more often than not do not want others to feel pity for them.

The Mali Scholarship Program

Education offers immediate and long lasting solutions. Not only will the scholarship program provide an opportunity for the girls to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to make a positive impact on themselves and the societies they live in, it will also empower them with the confidence to be independent and take on the world! Each year a girl is in school (regardless of where she lives in the world), she increases her earning potential and increases the chances of a better future for their children, their community, and their country.

School Girls Unite’s 100% volunteer-run program provides scholarships to girls in Mali. The scholarship program offers to cover their tuition fees, their books and supplies as well as tutoring and mentoring for an entire school year. Often, many girls have to repeat the same grade one or more times because they missed school due to malaria, or not able to attend school to care for their siblings.

Successes of the scholarship program

Over the past 12 years, about 10 of the recipients of this scholarship have moved with their families to the city, 10 more have completed the 9th grade (which is an incredible rural Mali), another 3 of the scholarship recipients have managed to continue on their education independently, and another 2 have received an associate’s degree!

Such a wonderful achievement for the girls and a real testament to the program itself.

What other impacts do education have on people in Mali?

The girls and women in Mali are strong, determined and full of personality! Educated girls are more likely to keep their families safe and healthy. They are more likely to delay marriage and pregnancy. When girls delay having their first child until they reach adulthood, they cut down on the rate of infant mortality, maternal mortality, and of chronic complications resulting from early childbearing. When girls are educated about the ways that dangerous diseases like HIV/AIDS or malaria spread, they are better equipped to keep themselves and their loved ones from risking exposure which is crucial to survival in Mali.

You can find out more about School Girls Unite and their great work here. One thing we’ve learnt is if 12-year-old girls can achieve such greatness, there is no reason why the rest of us can’t. When you put your mind to it, there really is nothing that can stop you.

Please note, our #FortunateFriday posts are not sponsored. They are chosen to be featured by our team in consultation with our students, and they are chosen because we believe in what they do and want the world to know about them!

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‘Till our next #FortunateFriday feature, have a great week and remember to be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Your act of kindness could create immense change beyond your wildest imagination!

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