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Join Me Lets Innovate for Girls Education – It’s Possible!

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Kiiya JK – It’s been long since I last wrote several years ago when I was still an excellent literature student. Well that was then, this is now. Girls! How did I end up here? Seriously…About a week ago I was in Chandigarh in India attending an International Youth Peace Festival (IYPF 2013). There were about four discussion topics divided each into four groups, a topic per group. Out of over 100 visiting youths from all over the world only two male went to a discussion ‘Focus on the Girl Child -Towards a Different World’. Interestingly enough a female volunteer asked us not to join the group because it ‘was only meant for girls and women.’ The issues mattered most to females. The other friend left, but I explained to the volunteer ‘I am a child rights advocate and I think this is the right place for me’.

One thing is common world over – discrimination against female is acceptable, sadly by both women and men. This literally means rule of the father in a male-dominated family, scholars have named this Patriarchy. Back to innovation

My professional journey begun right after high-school before joining college. I moved from my humble neighbourhood town to the commercial hub of Tanzania, Dar es salaam en route to USA for college. My USA dream and plans died with realities. I started volunteering at a primary school, kindergarten to be precise. This became a window to entering into the lives of children. Interaction with these honest youngsters taught me a lot – ‘they are humans. They live now.’ Grown-ups, parents, guardians and sometimes even teachers wait for children to ‘grow’ to start conversing with them meaningfully – to start listening to them. Wrong. Very wrong

Ever since my volunteering years and throughout my professional conduit I have grown to appreciate the power of women – educated women especially. They are the drivers of success in families. My theory is that development must address family wellbeing such as access to food, health care, education – happiness and love. Poverty is the enemy of all these. Sometimes I think men are the creators and promoters of poverty. Men have failed to end poverty all these years. Women can. Educated women can.

While there has been significant progress in improving girls’ access to education over the last two decades, many girls, particularly the most marginalized, continue to be deprived of this basic right. Girls in many countries are still unable to attend school and complete their education due to safety-related, financial, institutional and cultural barriers. Even when girls are in school, perceived low returns from poor quality of education, low aspirations, or household chores and other responsibilities keep them from attending school or from achieving adequate learning outcomes. The transformative potential for girls and societies promised through girls’ education is yet to be realized.

Why are you and I innovators? Scholars define innovation as a new solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or simply a more just solution than existing ones. It is therefore possible that we are the innovators waiting to put those excellent unique ideas into practice in future. Future is now. Ideas have legs. They move.

Ideas that will mean young people are involved in improving public and private means of transportation for girls to get to school—from roads, buses, mopeds, bicycles to boats and canoes. Engaging young people in monitoring and holding school systems accountable for ensuring the integrity of school facilities and functions and the safety and learning of girls

Young bankers ensure collaboration between school systems and the banking industry to facilitate secure and convenient pay delivery to female teachers and scholarship delivery to girls. Some young female are offered courses in schools, universities and vocational education programmes in science and technologies. Youth-led corporate mentorship programmes to help girls acquire critical work and leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to work

Young head of schools lead revisions of school curricula to integrate positive messages on gender norms related to violence, child marriage, sexual and reproductive health, and male and female family roles. Innovations that will see young developers deploying mobile technologies for teaching and learning to reach girls, especially in remote areas

AND most of us will use social media, advertising and commercial packaging to publicize data on gender disparities in education, the underlying causes, and actions that can be taken for change. On this year’s session of the International Day of the Girl Child whose theme for 2013 is “Innovating for Girls’ Education” – we are encouraged to innovate to better the lives of our mothers, sisters and daughters.

Indeed, you could be an innovator to help end discrimination against our daughters, sisters and mothers – as Mahatma Gandhi puts it “Almost anything you do will seem insignificant but it is very important that you do it… You must be the change you wish to see in the World.” IT’S POSSIBLE!

Feedback and comments: – Kiiya JK is a Child Protection Barrister | Social Entrepreneur | Society Worker | Retired Teacher and Chief Executive of C-Sema an organisation using innovative communication technologies to address children access to social services in Tanzania. Some of C-Sema’s projects include the National Child Helpline; Happy/Sad Opinion Boxes; and Sema Magazine. Join him on twitter @KiiyaJK & @SemaTanzania AND on this link Sema Tanzania Facebook.

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