This International Women’s Day, we implore you to truly think internationally.
The rights we western women have enjoyed for decades are not yet guaranteed to women and girls in towns and villages in countries all over the world. While we fight for equal pay, stature and opportunity, women in other countries are just beginning to fight for the right to an education, to not be sold to another family into marriage for a number of cattle, and to not undergo female circumcision. While women and men across the nation give a nod to truly courageous, intelligent, and defiant women, and stand in solidarity in the continued struggle for true equality, we ask you to think of young women around the world, especially in a village called Kitenga.
In Kitenga, the northern most point in Tanzania, cultural traditions control the story of every daughter.
“Their parents… want them to finish primary school as soon as possible so that they can be married and get the cows they need”, said Sister Dolores, an Immaculate Heart Sister of Africa nun, who is stationed in Kitenga.
According to a report by international nonprofit, Save The Children, every 7 seconds, a child under 15 gets married.
To be 12 or 13-years-old and finishing your last year of school, in order to be bartered for livestock into marriage, is a truth that is hard to accept. Nonetheless, it’s real. And it’s happening right now.
Girls Education Collaborative exists to help these marginalized girls to transcend their circumstances and gain inherent rights, primarily by providing access to a quality education.
“Once they see [their] girls educated and [that] it can do something for the village”, continues Sr. Dolores, “they will change.”
GEC’s first project, supporting an all girls boarding school in Kitenga, Tanzania, currently hosts 59 girls in their first year of high school. These girls are at the highest risk for this tradition. But at the Kitenga School For Girls, they are safe. They can just be girls.
At full vision, the Kitenga School For Girls will enroll 1,500 students, from Kindergarten through secondary school. The school will ensure a holistic education, and safety from child marriage, and other harmful traditions, like female genital mutilation.
As a two-woman staff working from an innovative co-working space in Buffalo, NY, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the privileges we take advantage of every day, thanks to the advocates who came before us. The shoulders we stand on. But the voice we have, gives us even more reason and more opportunity to broadcast the stories of our Tanzanian sisters. To help bring them more shoulders, to help lift them towards the futures they deserve.
We simply cannot ignore the millions of girls calling out for help across the globe any longer.