Links International’s communications and fundraising manager, Amy Halls, reveals that there are still many countries that see girls as less worthy or capable than boys – and says we need to advocate and be a voice for those girls
Girls in rural Malawi are often denied the right to an education. Many are forced into early marriages because the family believe it is a waste to educate girls. Others want to find husbands for their daughters who will be able to provide for the whole family. Some girls are even sent into prostitution to rescue the family from extreme poverty.
Malawian teenager Bezita Benard was married at a young age and had to drop out of school. The team at Links International approached the grandmother who was looking after her, who was adamant that she wanted Bezita to get an education. We involved the village chiefs and obtained all the learning materials she needed. Then we supported the grandmother with food and requested that Bezita continue her education. Now aged 17, Bezita is back at school and is one of our girls’ champions, encouraging other girls to stay in school.
Supporting and empowering girls
This is why we set up our Girl Empowerment Programme in Malawi, with the aim of training and educating girls. The programme started in 2013 for primary school-aged girls and was adapted for secondary school-aged girls in 2015. The girls we try to help first are the orphans and vulnerable children, as well as those in child-headed households or living with older grandparents. So far, 125 girls have been impacted and empowered, with 60 currently receiving help. Support provided through this programme over the years includes tuition fees, sanitary products, learning materials, uniforms, food, counselling, peer-to-peer studying and community-based learning. We have been able to rescue many girls from the jaws of early marriage and prostitution, enabling them to go back to school. We want them to have the chance to be everything God created them to be.
Let’s come together
Heartbreakingly, the situations we are trying to address in these Malawian villages are echoed all over the world. Although equal rights are fundamental, there are still many countries where they hold no value or importance. So many communities globally believe that girls are somehow less worthy or less capable than boys. In many places, they are having their futures taken away from them and are unable to make any decisions for themselves, while opportunities for boys are more freely available. We love hearing about girls and families who are breaking free from these chains, but there is still a long way to go. We need to stand with girls around the world right now and demand equality. We need to be an advocate and a voice for these girls who have the potential within them to grow into strong, capable, successful women. We need to pray for the liberation of these girls, and for the stigma around them to be broken.
Let’s come together. Let’s continue the fight for freedom. Let’s choose love.