I am writing this story because I want to connect with sisters who are implementing projects with girls and boys, too. I have been in development work for more than twenty-five (25) years and I can proudly say that my most fulfilling project is the "Empowering Girls Project" which we have implemented in 19 villages in Tacloban City more than a decade ago. We were able to reach 600 girls and educate them on life skills and on reproductive health and rights. Many of the girls were just 14 - 16 years old at that time and now they have their own careers and families. They have carved their own paths as teachers, health care workers, entrepreneurs and yes mothers. Many of them attribute their self-confidence and "marrying at the right time" from the trainings they underwent as Adolescent Team Educators (ATEs) and learners. ATEs serve as peer facilitators who facilitate learning group sessions of girls in their respective villages.
We are set to embark on a similar project in five (5) municipalities and 25 villages from two (2) provinces in another island. The Philippines is an archipelago composed of more than 7,100 islands and I live in an island called Leyte. The ATEs who were trained 15 years ago will play a big role in this project. However, times have changed. There was no social media, yet, that time. They were peaceful times. No pandemic. Girls and boys today are growing in a different environment where they are exposed to all sorts of information, both false and half true. And we are now in a pandemic with community quarantine protocols, no classes and no face to face meetings. Times that require a lot of resourcefulness, creativity and technology in order to implement a project.
How are you doing your projects with girls these days? Can we share notes? Can we meet over Zoom? Can we connect the girls from our different countries? Can we start the world sisterhood while they are young? Who knows that by creating a wave of empowered girls now, we can accelerate the pace towards global gender equality.
Girls can lead. We are here to support them.
Girls don't just want to have fun. They want to create a better world, too. Think Malala. Think Greta.