Classroom women empowerement

История

Helping girls to achieve their full potential and fulfil their dreams

Marshet Zelalem grew up in a rural village in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. In primary school, she lacked confidence, believing she could never do as well as the boys in her class. Today, Marshet is the president of the Children's Parliament and the spokesperson of the Women and Children's Bureau in the town of Tabor.

Marshet Zelalem grew up in a rural village in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. In primary school, she lacked confidence, believing she could never do as well as the boys in her class. Today, Marshet is the president of the Children's Parliament and the spokesperson of the Women and Children's Bureau in the town of Tabor. She speaks out in public and explains with self-assurance and conviction why it is essential to support girls’ education and combat stereotypes that hinder their development.

Marshet Zelalem
Marshet Zelalem © Genaye Eshetu

She owes this self-confidence to the training she received as part of a UNESCO project, linked to the UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education signed between the HNA Group/Hainan Cihang Foundation and the Organization for an amount of 5 million dollars. The project aims to promote women's rights and gender-sensitive pedagogies and to develop communication skills, leadership, and creativity skills.

I have learned the skills to express myself, to debate with others and to convince them [...] Before, I always thought 'I can't', just because I was a girl
Marshet Zelalem

Now she is passing on these valuable life skills to 80 young members of the Children's Parliament.

Like Marshet, Meron Shegene and Eden Muket participated in a training course that gives girls the tools to succeed in their studies and achieve their life goals. For them, there was no question of waiting any longer to take action, so they decided to quickly put to use what they had learned in the training.

In their secondary school in Chagni, Ethiopia, Meron and Eden educate their peers daily about gender equality through literary works in the mini-media club. The library has since been taken over by the girls at the school and their academic performance is being affected positively.

Before the training, I only went to school without a real goal in mind. Now I have the determination to achieve my life goals [...] I am convinced that a girl can succeed in anything
Eden Muket
Meron Shegene © Genaye Eshetu
Meron Shegene © Genaye Eshetu.png

Meron and Eden both have ambitions to become journalists in the future. By choosing this career path, Meron would like to make a greater impact in her country by addressing issues of gender discrimination in Ethiopia. 

My poems are inspired by the role of women in society. I like to share them with my classmates by reading to them [...] Our country can only develop with the contribution of both men and women
Meron Shegene

Bernice Impraim lives in Breman Asikuma, Ghana. Her dream? To become a doctor. But to do so, she has to overcome the prejudices that keep girls away from scientific and technological subjects and still too often dissuade them from taking such courses. 

Bernice © UNESCO Timothy Yankson
Bernice Impraim © UNESCO Timothy Yankson

The figures available worldwide are telling: only 30% of female students enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related fields and less than 30% of the scientific community is composed of women. This situation is all the more alarming as STEM will be the most promising field in the next coming years, penalising those who have not been initiated into it.

Since I was a child I wanted to be a doctor but I was afraid of science because I heard a lot of people saying that it was difficult and that I would end up giving up
Bernice Impraim

To overcome these obstacles, UNESCO is organising - again as part of the UNESCO-HNA Partnership - STEM awareness days in three districts chosen for their low rate of girls' participation in STEM curricula. During these sessions, the girls conduct hands-on laboratory experiments in areas such as chemistry, physics and mathematics, after a demonstration by female teachers. It is an opportunity to talk to women who have studied science and to receive their valuable advice. 

This was a valuable experience for Bernice, who drew extra motivation from her training day. Bernice is now studying science at Breman Asikuma High School in Ghana. 

There used to be no one to encourage me. During the STEM day, I received support from the women trainers and I decided to undertake scientific studies, regardless of the negative opinions I was hearing
Bernice Impraim
De jeunes ghanéennes assistant à une journée de sensibilisation aux STIM   © UNESCO/Prosper Nyavor
Ghanaian girls attending a STEM awareness day

Similarly to Bernice, Bridget Tsagli was held back by the prejudices that undermined her confidence in pursuing scientific studies. She had come to learn about science at a STEM awareness day organised by the UNESCO in Ghana.

I discovered how interesting science was and that I could study it as well as the boys
Bridget Tsagli

Determined to fulfil their dreams, Marshet, Meron, Eden, Bernice and Bridget have taken their destiny into their own hands. We wish them great success! 

UNESCO-HNA Partenariat pour l'éducation des filles et des femmes
2017
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Une Vie meilleure, un avenir meilleur: partenariat mondial de l'UNESCO pour l'éducation des filles et des femmes
2015
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Cracking the code: girls' and women's education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
UNESCO
2017
UNESCO
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STEM education for girls and women: breaking barriers and exploring gender inequality in Asia
UNESCO Bangkok Office
UNESCO
2020
UNESCO
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Transforming girls’ education in Ethiopia

Gender responsive pedagogy (GRP) considers the learning needs of both girls and boys within the school environment. Through girls’ participation in school clubs, equal classroom set-ups, life-skills and teacher trainings, UNESCO is transforming girls’ education in Ethiopia and empowering them to raise their academic performance.