When a woman learns to read and write, her whole world changes; possibilities and opportunities are created.Our clients expressed a desire and excitement for a literacy program and in response, our literacy program began in July, 2008.
To date we have provided over 1,600 women literacy opportunities. Participants are divided into groups where they will be provided with materials, books, pens, etc. and attend classes twice a week for eight months. In 2010-11, 50 women sat for national exams,with 100% passing the national literacy examination, receiving a certificate from the Ministry of Education.
Education and Women’s Empowerment
Education systems vary in administration, curriculum and personnel, but all have an influence on the students that they serve. As women have gained rights, formal education has become a symbol of progress and a step toward gender equity. In order for true gender equity to exist, a holistic approach needs to be taken. The discussion of girl power and women’s education as solutions for eliminating violence against women and economic dependence on men can sometimes take dominance and result in the suppression of understanding how context, history and other factors affect women (Khoja-Moolji, 2015). For example, when past secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, referenced the tragedies of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan and the girls kidnapping in Chibok, Nigeria as comparable, using girls’ education as the focus, history and context were ignored. What led to the shooting of Malala was reduced to being solely about her educating herself as a girl. United States interference, poverty, and government corruption and instability were not addressed.
Women’s Empowerment and International Development
Micro- and macro level factors that get attention by international development agencies (IDA) vary. For example, reaching a quota of representatives in political positions (macro level) but ignoring how home life pressures (micro level) do not actually leave women at a position of free self-expression (Stromquist, 2015). IDA’s tend to focus on numbers and on information provided by the national governments. This ignores the possibility that national governments are not the most reliable or trust worthy. Programs put on by FAWE (Forum for African American Educationalists) called Tuseme clubs in Africa, which are Non Formal Education programs, are explored as they have proven successful and effective but do not get enough support from the government to be replicated. Tuseme means “let’s speak out” in Swahili and in action the programs tailor to each participating school, focusing on communication and life skills, keeping the community in mind. The program is set up as an extracurricular activity that focuses on issues through tools like school newspapers, dance and theater. In this example, education and empowerment are tackled on outside the classroom.