Girls’ Education and Empowerment
Adolescent girls living in Dzaleka Camp and surrounding villages are facing multiple barriers that prevent them from enjoying their rights and realising their full potential. In Dzaleka, refugees are not allowed to work or to move outside the Camp, resulting in poverty that often means girls are unable to go to school.
Most of families cannot afford the costs of scholastic materials including school uniforms, books, bags, shoes, pens, pencils, etc. They prioritize essential needs such as food and shelter, as well as sending boys to school, over girls’ education. Likewise, poverty drives most of families to marry their daughters in exchange for a dowry as a way to cope with economic hardship. As reported, many adolescent girls in Dzaleka Camp and surrounding villages are forced into marriage at 13 or 14 years old and dropped out of school
Furthermore, school-related Sexual and Gender-Based Violence is also a barrier to the right of girl learners to safe quality education. In Dzaleka, there is a high risk of adolescent schoolgirls being sexually abused by teachers and other students. These systematic abuses included rape, bullying, forced touching, and love relationships with teachers in exchange for good grades or money. These abuses often go unreported by other teachers out of fear, solidarity among colleagues or simply not recognizing them as abuse.
Most of schoolgirls also miss out classes every time they are menstruating because they cannot take care of themselves at school. Some poor adolescent girls cannot afford disposable pads and do not have pants (underwear).
SOFERES is working to advance a future where every girl has the opportunity to go to school, stay in school, and reach her full potential. We are therefore working with different partners to eliminate violence in schools, make the school environment safe for every child, as well as to ensure that adolescent girls in Dzaleka Camp and surrounding villages are healthy, safe and educated. The most vulnerable schoolgirls receive scholastic materials such as school uniforms, books, bags, pens, pencils as well as solar lamps to study at night. The program also builds toilets and creates access to water in schools in order to keep learning environments safe and healthy.
SOFERES also encourage schoolgirls to remain in schools and attend all lessons even during their menses through provision of sustainable sanitary pads, underwear. However, we provide life skills, job skills, and literacy and numeracy skills for out-of-school girls and illiterate teen mothers.
Families too poor to send their daughters to school are offered trainings in business development and provided microloans after the training is completed. With an increased income, these families can afford to educate their daughters.