Archive for the Girls Education Category

Photos for Millennium Development Goals for UN week Sept. 21-26 2014

Posted in corporate social responsibility, Documentary | Photography, Girls Education, Global Health, News, Non Profit, Recent Projects, Uncategorized, women's empowerment with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2014 by tuschman


I was asked by FHI 360  in collaboration with Women Deliver, Girls’ Globe and Johnson & Johnson to contribute some of my photos from my upcoming book: Faces of Courage to present during this year’s UN General Assembly opening session the week of September 22-26 in New York. They are creating an online campaign centered around the Twitter hashtag #MDG456Live to draw attention to how the development community is addressing women’s and girls’ issues related to MDGs 4, 5 and 6 at the UN General Assembly. I am very proud to be part of this effort. Here are a set of bookmarks that will be distributed:

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Educating Child Brides in Rajasthan India

Posted in child brides, Documentary | Photography, Girls Education, India, Non Profit, poverty, womens reproductive healthcare on April 6, 2012 by tuschman


This past January, I had another opportunity to work with EducateGirls India, an NGO that works in Rajasthan, where gender inequality is especially high. EducateGirls has intensive programs to educate as many girls as possible. Their goal is to encourage them to pursue education beyond the 6th grade. In Rajasthan, 68 percent of girls are child brides, out of which 15 percent are married below the age of ten. Educate Girls works in the Pali and Jalore districts, where a lack of education for girls is a serious problem. Both districts have alarmingly high rates of child marriage, out-of-school children, and some of the lowest literacy rates in Rajasthan.

First, a bit of background information on the issue of child brides.

 

Child Brides

“Every year, an estimated 10 million girls worldwide are married before they turn 18, usually with no say in when or whom they marry. That’s more than 25,000 girls every day, or 19 every minute. In the developing world, one in seven girls is married before her 15th birthday and some child brides are as young as eight or nine.

Neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers, these girls are at far greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, becoming infected with HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence. With little access to education and economic opportunities, they and their families are more likely to live in poverty.”

from www.girlsnotbrides.org a global partnership to end child marriage

Causes of Early and Child Marriage

“Parents who cannot provide for the basic needs of their children may give a young daughter in marriage so they have one less mouth to feed and to ensure she is supported.

In parts of India, culture dictates that the bride’s family pay the groom’s family a dowry, the value of which is lower when the girl is young. This custom reinforces the idea that it’s best to hand over a girl child early, before she becomes a greater economic burden. In these circumstances, poor parents consider it a waste to invest in daughters, who are expected to leave at marriage and serve in another’s home whereas sons are expected to look after aging parents.

Illiteracy and lack of education mean many girls and their families see few alternatives for the future.

Uneducated parents are most likely to be ignorant of laws prohibiting child marriage and of the serious health risks that early sexual debut and pregnancy pose for girls. They are also more likely to see the education of females as wasteful rather than a sound investment.

Without educated females to serve as role models in a community, the multiple, proven benefits of educating girls aren’t readily apparent.”

From the World Vision report “Before she’s ready:Fifteen places girls marry by 15”.

Educate Girls in Rajasthan India

Education has proven to be an effective tool in delaying the transition of young girls into married life. Empowering and educating girls yields positive returns to individuals, families, and societies both now and for generations to come.

These four young girls are all attending school. Only Kala, on the right side, is a child bride. They are preparing for a dance performance for their mothers, whom they still live with until they reach an age determined by their families, when they have to leave and reside in their husbands’ home.

This is Devika, who is 12 years old and in the 6th grade.

Practicing for her dance performance:

Manju 13 years old and also in the 6th grade:

Manju practicing for the dance performance:

This is Kala, who is13 years old and in the 7th grade. She was married when she was three months old.

Kala preparing for the dance:

We visited Kala at home. Her parents are both manual laborers and not at home when we visited.

Here are photos of her cleaning, studying and another portrait. She had a certain elegance and brightness, and I could not help but feel saddened by the fact that her destiny was determined at three months.

This is Munni, Kala’s neighbor. She never enrolled in school. She is 16 years old and became a widow eight months ago. Now she is considered a widow for life.

This is Poonam, also 13 years old and in the 6th grade.

This is Meena, a 15 year old child bride, who dropped out in the 6th grade.

This is Chumki, 17 years old child bride who dropped out after the 6th grade.

Chaddi, who is 16 years old, with her mother Vimla.  Chaddi is pursuing her education. She is in the 10th grade,  studying at home in a long distance education program.

Vimla, who is 32 years old, is also in the same program in the 12th grade.

Mohini, a child bride is 17 years old and  is shown here with her mother. She dropped out after the 8th grade.

Pooja, a child bride with her mother. Pooja is 12 years old and in the 6th grade.

Chaddi a 14 years old child bride is in the 7th grade. She is  reading to her mother, who never had an opportunity for any education.

Sobha, in the turquoise sweater, is 21 years old and has completed her B.A. She is part of Educate Girls  “Team Balika” , girls who have had the good fortune to get an education and are employed to tutor young girls in school. EducateGirls is building a cadre of village based youth leaders to work as champions for girls’ education and catalysts for school reform. Six Hundred Twenty “Team Balika” members have been trained and are actively working to support all the programs of EducateGirls.

Payal is 13 years old and  is in the 6th grade.She is not a child bride.

Sunita is 7 years old and in the 2nd grade. Her eagerness to learn is quite clearly evident by the intensity of her concentration.

A class of 2nd graders in the village of Chitariya.

A second grader learning to read:

A seventh grader  learning intently.

A village elder looks into the classroom, perhaps wondering what it would have been like to have received more schooling:

The above examples clearly show that there is a great deal of variation in the extent that girls are getting educated. Many of the child brides will not continue school past the 6th grade. The fortunate girls who have graduated from high school and perhaps even gone on to college (i.e., the members of “Team Balika”) will provide positive role models for the community. Many School Management Committees have been formed with parents sitting on their local school boards, encouraging girls to stay in school. It is hard work to change traditions and culture, but hopefully the elders of the communities will appreciate the value of educating their girls.

Below are photos from a “Team Balika” training session. Nooreen Dossa, on the right from EducateGirls is leading a session with some of the high school graduates.

For more information about about Educate Girls programs in India, please visit:

                                                                     http://www.educategirls.in    

Planned Parenthood Global and Soccer in Kenya

Posted in Africa, Documentary | Photography, Girls Education, Global Health, Kenya, Non Profit, Recent Projects, Uncategorized, womens reproductive healthcare on February 22, 2012 by tuschman

(The following text has several contributors- primarily Joyce Ho, a Graduate Media Fellow from the Stanford School of Medicine and Leila Darabi from Planned Parenthood Global).

In Kenya, Planned Parenthood Global (PP Global) works with several local soccer leagues to integrate sexual and reproductive health education and services into their programs.

For many, expectations for their educational and career success do not extend beyond completing primary school. Some are already mothers. Joining an athletic league provides these young women with the chance to exercise, become part of a team, and have some fun. Evidence shows that young women who participate in team sports are more confident, stay in school longer, and set more ambitious career goals than those who never get to run across a field or score a goal.

Using their Youth Peer Provider model, PP Global’s partners train young people to become health educators and contraceptive counselors in their own right. Youth Peer Providers work closely with local clinics and are trained by public health experts to teach their peers how to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and to provide contraception to young people who need it. This peer-to-peer model circumvents the stigma and barriers that surround adolescent sexual and reproductive health services. In countries where talking to young people about sex remains taboo, Youth Peer Providers help their counterparts delay pregnancy, stay healthy, and stay in school.

We will follow two girls: Sylvia, who lives on in the Kilifi district on the coast of Kenya and Anne, who lives in an urban slum in Nairobi (names changed to protect their privacy).

In the Kilifi District on the coast of Kenya, HIV and teen pregnancy trap some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged adolescent girls in a relentless cycle of poverty. A local community organization called Moving the Goalposts (MTG) sought to address this issue by organizing a young women’s soccer league. By engaging these young women in physical activities that promote camaraderie, MTG helps its players build self esteem and leadership skills. The framework for MTG represented a unique entry point for reproductive health initiatives for these young women, to give them the knowledge and tools to protect their sexual health.

In 2011, MTG and Planned Parenthood formed a collaboration to build a sexual health youth peer provider program into the soccer league. Sylvia, age 22, is one of the first peer providers trained through the MTG and Planned Parenthood program in Kilifi. She plays on the older girls’ soccer league and teaches sexual health classes to her peers before games.

The unique quality of the peer provider program lies in increased access to the target population. Young people are hard to reach, especially in areas where enrollment in school is limited. Sometimes adults speak different languages from the younger generation, and oftentimes, youth shy away from asking questions about sexual health out of embarrassment or discomfort. Peer providers know exactly how to reach the ones they are trying to help – they know how to communicate effectively and lessons are safe places where girls can ask any sort of question and not feel embarrassed. Here, Sylvia demonstrates the proper way to use a condom while her teammates listen and learn.

A young woman in Kenya knows that if she gets pregnant, she will probably be forced to drop out of school and the course of her life will be unalterably changed, leaving her with very limited options.  Through MTG and Planned Parenthood, these soccer players are becoming empowered to take their health needs into their own hands. Sylvia, a star player on her team, understands the importance of this program, and thus devotes many hours a week to peer counseling and soccer practice.

The girls don’t live close to the soccer fields. Many players walk miles from the slums to the more well-kept neighborhoods where the soccer games are held, demonstrating their true dedication to the program.

Sylvia lives at home with her mother, the head of the household, who is proud to have such a responsible daughter who spends time volunteering to help her community. Sylvia has an older sister who is currently married with children, and Sylvia  wants to finish her education first before embarking on a similar life path.

Next year Sylvia plans to start classes at the local university. After finishing secondary school, she took time off to work and save up money, all the while debating whether college was within her reach. Sylvia’ experience with the team and the Youth Peer Provider program helped build up her confidence and plan for her future. This is in stark contrast to the future in store for many of her peers who haven’t finished secondary school and are already mothers. Sylvia has truly broken the mold, and unlike most of the young women who grew up in her neighborhood, she will make it to that next level of education. It is our hope that Moving the Goalpost and Planned Parenthood Global can continue to work together to inspire other similar girls to take ownership of their futures.

In Nairobi, PP Global partners with the Bravilian Queens, a nonprofit that organizes several teams in the newly established Nairobi Girls Soccer League. The program takes advantage of team practices, a time when a group of young women are gathered together, to provide basic sex education and answer any questions about puberty, sex, relationships and contraception.

Anne lives in one of the urban slums of Nairobi. To reach her home, one has to walk past an open latrine and then walk about 400 meters over a hill on a path littered with trash.

Here she is pictured with her parents and her younger sister.

Anne is not a Peer Counselor but one of the girls whose self-esteem is greatly benefited by her athletic prowess on the soccer field and her knowledge of her own reproductive health care needs.

Anne participates with great enthusiasm even though she does not have the funds to buy a pair of soccer shoes. She either borrows a spare pair when available or, in most cases, plays in knee socks and sandals.

Girls Education- Educate Girls Globally in Rajasthan, India

Posted in Documentary | Photography, Girls Education, India, Non Profit, Recent Projects on July 27, 2011 by tuschman

This past January I documented a girl’s education project in Pali, Rajasthan, India. Educate Girls Globally (EGG), founded by Lawrence Chickering, is focusing on Muslim communities, where “the education of girls and empowerment of women have lagged badly.”

Here are some statistics:

India is home to one of the largest illiterate populations in the world. In Rajasthan, 44% of females are literate, as compared to 76% of males. For every 100 rural girls, only one reaches 12th grade. Out of 26 districts with the highest gender gap, 9 are in Rajasthan. Educate Girls works in Pali, where the gender gap is particularly high.

One of they key features that attracted me to EGG is that the program is designed to be scaled up. In fact, EGG has plans to educate 5 million girls by working closely with communities and local governments. In 2010, Educate Girls has scaled up from 500 schools to 2,342 schools in the entire Pali district, which covers 1,067 villages.

Our first stop was to a very small community where I had a chance to meet and photograph two young women. One young girl was not able to attend school — instead she had to watch her younger sister and tend to the family goats.

The other young woman, pictured here with her mother, receives her mother’s support and encouragement to do well in her studies. Her mother, who had a chance to travel outside of her local community when she was younger, realized that her lack of education was a major limitation to her quality of life. Due to this realization, the mother intended to ensure that her daughter finished her schooling. Evidently, the mother was very proud of her daughter’s persistence in pursuing her education.

We next visited a girls boarding school system. This system of schools was initiated by M. K. Gandhi’s wife to provide for educationally disadvantaged girls – many of whom have disabled parents, are orphans, or live too far away from schooling facilities. It was evident from my short visit and from the photos below that these girls were also being educated to be empowered; they had a great deal of self-confidence and were very supportive of each other.

We then had an opportunity to visit Pipla, a small rural tribal community. It is geographically isolated and consequently cut-off from many state resources. Here, Educate Girls has been the only organization attempting to educate these children to a level where they can commence mainstream schooling. The Non-Residential Bridging Camp (NRBC) program here has been very effective. The number of tribal girls participating in the program is quite high, particularly when taken as a percentage of the total number of girls living in the area. There is a local school nearby (~1km from where we visited) where students who successfully complete the NRBC can continue their education.

I would like to thank Matt Withers,  a volunteer with EGG, who accompanied me on this trip and provided me with much of the background information.