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‘Education critical for empowering women & girls’

-says Deputy Social Welfare Minister

June 8, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs has stated that education was critical to the empowerment of women and girls and that extensive evidence has shown that educated women could become effective agents of change in society.

Rugiatu Neneh Turay said that educated women are capable of improving both their own wellbeing and the welfare of their families.

She was speaking recently during the official launch of Street Child -Sierra Leone’s National Consultation on Adolescent Girls Education report.

She said the empowering effects of education on women and girls are manifested in a variety of ways, including increased income earning potential, ability to bargain for resources within the household, decision making autonomy and participation in public life.

“Improvement in the education of girls is a critical factor in ensuring positive health outcomes, lowering age at marriage, increasing control over fertility and preventing violence,” she said.

Madam Turay said the report was being published at a critical moment for Sierra Leone as a lot of girls are exposed to harmful practices, adding that the Ebola crisis deeply affected the country and its children.

“Girls have been particularly affected. Girls that should be in school have instead become mothers, caregivers and breadwinners. In the current economic climate, the key findings of the report came as no surprise,” she stated.

Also, Street Child’s Country Director, Emmanuel Kelfa Kargbo stated that the report was based on interviews and focus group discussions held with over 2,000 girls in 32 rural and urban projects areas they operate nationwide.

Whilst so many factors were identified as significant barriers to girls’ education, including teenage pregnancy, early marriage and parental attitudes, Mr. Kargbo said majority of focus groups citied poverty as the biggest barrier to their education.

“Whilst it is no surprise that poverty emerges as a barrier to learning in a country like Sierra Leone, the clarity of the call from these 2,000 girls is so striking and clear. Girls say poverty is the biggest and we are asking all for help with this one,” he said.

Mr. Kargbo disclosed that the immediate response from Street Child would be to intensify family business support to families of vulnerable girls, in conjunction with social work going beyond the 9,000 families the organisation has already supported since the end of the Ebola crisis.

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