Throughout its history of working at the grass root with widows, single mothers and orphans, African Child Trust (ACT) has prioritised the empowerment of women and girls in African communities, many of whom are prevented from attaining their potentials or reaching their personal and professional goals. This is because of a litany of reasons that add up to one fact and one fact alone. They are held back because they are female. Whether it is the antiquated view that women should be home while the man works, or that women and girls should fulfil the role of caregiver when necessary, even the ignorance of feminine hygiene or lack of sexual education, these all serve as shocking roadblocks and are some of the variety of reasons why in many parts of the world in 2017, women and girls are still unable to propel themselves forward and up the social ladder.
The vision of ACT is to ensure that all children, girls or boys, are given the same opportunity of education, regardless of their familial or economic circumstances. ACT and its partners believe that there is no excuse for women and girls to be treated, officially or unofficially, as second class citizens. There are strong female leaders in many parts of the world, including in Africa. Today, women serve as heads of state and hold senior government positions and there are women members of parliament and business leaders in many countries of Africa. As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October, ACT is recommitting itself to working side by side with its partners to ensure more is done to assist women and girls to achieve all they’re capable of in life.
At ACT we have many examples and success stories of working with young women who have shown ingenuity and intuitiveness in pursuit of their education.
In Uganda, Fiona Amulen came of age in a similar way to many of her contemporaries. She had lost both her parents at a young age and left orphaned with her younger brother. As she grew up, war and poverty served as the backdrop – the country was reeling and Fiona’s guardian was barely able to afford the bare necessities. When, after two years spent outside the classroom due to ongoing civil strife in her hometown of Katakwi, Fiona was ready to re-start her education, her guardian was unable to afford the cost of school fees, a common dilemma in Uganda and other nearby states.
It was not long after that ACT came into Fiona’s life. Instead of marrying young or living a life of impoverishment, Fiona was able to go back to school, with ACT covering the school fees and other costs, as well as offering nurturing and guidance along the way. Now, she’s exceeded the expectations placed on her by virtue of being orphaned and in abject poverty and is reaching her goals through her education. Fiona even finds the time to sing in the school choir. ACT could not be any prouder to have worked with such an amazing young woman.
While Fiona’s story is one of hope and optimism, there are countless other young women and girls who are in precarious positions on the margins of society. We cannot relent; we cannot shrink from our responsibilities as global citizens to do what is right and what is necessary for all of humankind to have a brighter tomorrow.
If you believe as passionately as we do that all children deserve the opportunity to walk the path of education, and if you believe that no woman or girl should be held back simply because they are women or girls, then join us on our mission – we simply cannot do it without you.
If you’d like to contribute to helping a child just like Fiona, please click here