Because Strong Girls Make Strong Communities October 11, 2017 by Krista Park Berry
Today, October 11, is recognized by the UN as International Day of the Girl Child in honor of women who are affected daily by inequalities. On this day, we are called to not only draw attention to the issues that women face, but also celebrate the accomplishments of the fierce women who changed laws, defied stereotypes, and advocated for equality for all.
International Day of the Girl Child was first observed in 2012. Since then, it has become an annual campaign that raises awareness about women’s issues. This year, the UN chose to revolve festivities around the theme of “EmPOWER Girls: Before, after, and during crises.” The UN notes that conditions for young girls have improved greatly, but the issue that arises is whether women will be continually supported into their teens.
Many young women in Kibera do not have access to sufficient higher education or may suffer from gender violence, domestic abuse, or unwanted pregnancies, among other things. Our Tabitha Medical Clinic serves the Kibera community, offering a convenient and safe location to receive medical care including low-cost access to reproductive health services such as HIV/AIDS testing, cervical cancer screenings and treatments, and family planning counseling, all for a flat fee. In addition to the main clinic, we operate two voluntary counseling and testing facilities that offer information about healthy sexual practices.
We believe that young people benefit from learning about healthy sexual reproduction to prevent issues in the future. We empower youth peer educators to serve as volunteers in their communities to start conversations about these and other health topics with their friends. Recognizing the importance of continued support, we have designed these programs to be sustainable models that enable young women to be life-long learners and give back to their communities.
In addition, we believe that education is a basic human right and critical to long-term social change for young girls and women, and for communities. It is a stabilizing factor for children who have experienced trauma, a key contributor to country-wide economic growth, and the foundation to healthier, more educated future generations – especially when girls are educated.
We are proud that our Angaza Education program supports this basic right for girls and covers the full cost of high school tuition and offers enrichment opportunities for scholarship recipients. Additionally, our Binti Pamoja Core program for girls ages 10-17, provides artistic and educational activities that allow the girls to discover new passions and develop talents, and gain new life skills like financial literacy. Graduates of the program host discussions in designated “Safe Spaces” about gender-based violence, reproductive health, and financial literacy.
Providing girls and young women with needed health care, in addition to safe spaces both physically and emotionally, in which to grow, learn, and express themselves is crucial to helping girls escape poverty and leverage important opportunities.
Ultimately, our goal at CFK is to impact every aspect of a girl’s life, ensuring that she is educated, healthy, active, and happy. This International Day of the Girl Child, join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of women today and help us change the realities that women face tomorrow.
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