Gender equality: How we make a difference
10 October 2018
Marie was six when war forced her out of her Burundi home. Her experience of being a refugee reflects the harsh reality of living in a temporary camp. In the first, they had insufficient food and dirty drinking water. In the second, girls had to stay in groups for fear of being raped. Friends were infected with HIV, abandoned by their families or recruited as child soldiers. Luckily, Marie met a Right To Play coach, who worked to reduce sexual assault and illness in the camp and instilled in Marie hope for the future. For more, listen to Marie's story here
After escaping conflict in Liberia, Mamin, 16, lived in a large refugee camp in Ghana. Like many girls on the camp, she often met up with her friends at an open-air club where sex was on sale, along with the associated risks of HIV and unplanned pregnancy. Around the same time, she attended a Right To Play youth group on the camp and played games designed to raise girls’ awareness about HIV. After a few of these sessions, Mamin said to the coach there: “I don’t want to get HIV and AIDS so I’ll never go back to the open-air club.” After averting an all-too-easy path to prostitution, she is supporting her mother’s business selling corn.
Nidal is a Palestinian woman, born and raised in refugee camps in the Middle East. In 2012 she was living in Syria, but fled to Lebanon to avoid daily bombardments and sniper attacks. She had to leave behind her husband and one of her children, taking only her youngest two with her. Her eldest son made the treacherous journey by sea to Germany, but her family remains torn apart. In 2013 Nidal accepted that she could not return to Syria, so began to envisage a future in the refugee camp. Wanting to improve the education and lives of refugee children, she trained as a coach with Right To Play. For more, listen to Nidal's story here
Jonathan, 16, is one of 160,000 children living in Rubavu, Rwanda. Like his peers, he grew up in a very male-dominated society with strong cultural stereotypes around men’s behaviour. Jonathan grew up thinking girls were ‘useless’ and he would routinely slap girls who got in his way. Among females aged 15 to 49 in Rwanda, 48% claim to have experienced such gender-based violence. But thanks to a Right To Play team-building programme, he now sees girls differently. In fact, 86% of the boys like Jonathan have improved the way they relate to girls, as he explains in this video.
Mozambique has one of Africa’s high rates of adolescent pregnancy, with one girl in ten having a child before the age of 15 (UNFPA, 2013). Added to this, sexual harassment, a lack of female teachers and common practices like sex-for-grades contribute to the steep decline in girls’ school attendance. According to UNICEF (2010), 70% of girls claimed to know a male teacher who coerces girls to have sex in return for progression at school. As part of a long-term strategy to give girls more choices over their lives, we deliver training to encourage more female teachers, run community clubs and manage play-based programmes to engage girls in school, while also promoting girls’ education via community events. Our scope includes educating girls on rights over their bodies, avoiding sexual abuse and preventing unplanned pregnancies so they can further their education.
Gender-friendly infrastructure and hygiene facilities are necessary to make spaces more conducive to learning for girls. The availability of separate female toilets and access to sanitary supplies are major contributors to absenteeism and non-attendance of school by girls during menstruation (WaterAid 2013). To overcome these issues, we are working with local authorities in several African nations to develop safe toilets, lockable doors and better sanitation facilities to make school and learning spaces more welcoming for girls. We are also supporting the provision of sanitary pads in Mozambique and Tanzania. In Uganda, we are partnering with AfriPad to make and sell low-cost reusable sanitary pads, making it easier for girls to maintain menstrual hygiene during the school day – and one less reason to miss school.