Here’s how we reached over 11,640 girls and women through our education projects in 2017.
Thank you for being part of One Girl’s mission in 2017. Through your generosity, your passion and most importantly, your actions – we were able to transform the lives of girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda through education.
Through our four girl-focused education initiatives, we address some of the most prevalent barriers that keep girls from accessing education. These initiatives are Scholarships, Business Brains, LaunchPad and School Awesomisation. By enabling girls and women to access educational opportunities, we are helping create strong, empowered leaders who will create long-term, sustainable change in their families and communities.
Our Scholarships program enables some of the most vulnerable girls in the communities we work in to go back to school, so they can learn, grow, and be the best they can be.
HERE ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017
Every year we are blown away by what our Scholarship girls achieve academically. Every single one of our scholars has spent time out of school – some up to three or four years out of the classroom! But through dedication and the ongoing support of teachers, fellow Scholars, and our Sierra Leone staff, many of them go on to receive incredible academic results! In 2017:
- 21 Class 6 (final year of primary school) girls have progressed to their first year of high school
- 31 Scholars completed their final year exams; six achieving scores to enter University (the highest number in One Girl history!)
- 53 new girls were given Scholarships; 40 in JSS (Junior Secondary School) and 13 in SSS (Senior Secondary School)
In 2017 we put a focus on actively engaging with the communities where our scholars live and attend school. After all, our scholars don’t live in a vacuum – and some of the barriers to education they face are at the community level, so the community’s support and involvement is vital for the success of the program! Over the course of the year, eight Community Dialogue Meetings (CDMs) brought together a total of 200 members from ten communities where our programs run. During these meetings, committees were formed made up of scholarship girls, other young people in the community, school authorities, parents, and other influential community leaders. Together, the committees have agreed to find solutions to the challenges of educating girls at a community level, working closely with our Sierra Leone staff and our program partners. We’re excited to see them tackle the issues facing girls’ education at a community level!
Our Alumni program was created as more of our scholarship girls began to graduate from high school, with the aim of establishing more pathways for their future success, and create the space for them to work towards shared goals. Over 2017 it developed further, being driven by the Alumni themselves, as they elected their own National and Regional Executives to lead them. The Alumni members opened a bank account and started a soap business to begin earning profits which they could invest back into the group to fund their activities. With the support of our Sierra Leone team, the members also have access to volunteer and internship positions for their career development.
CHALLENGES & LESSONS LEARNT
Of course, alongside every highlight and ‘win’ – there’s a set of challenges and lessons we learnt throughout the year. We’re committed to sharing the whole journey with you – so here are some challenges we encountered during 2017 and, most importantly, the ways we will improve the program in 2018.
THERE IS MORE NEED THAN WE CAN MEET
The challenge: Unfortunately, in all the communities we work in, for every scholar we’re able to support, there are so many more who we cannot. Although the scholarships are incredibly beneficial for the girls involved, this raises the risk of creating an exclusionary program that focuses on a small number of individuals instead of the broader issue experienced by almost every girl in Sierra Leone.
What we’re doing about it: We want to broaden the scope of our program strategy so we are addressing even more of the barriers to education for girls. This includes more community and school-wide based programs, on top of focusing on individual scholarships. At the end of the day we want to be reaching as many girls as possible through quality education and training, and we’re working on ways we can do this sustainably.
TEENAGE PREGNANCY IS NOT JUST A GIRLS’ ISSUE
The challenge: Through the community engagement that we do, the link between teen pregnancy and school drop-out is a topic which is consistently brought up. While it’s fantastic that communities are willing to confront this critical issue, misinformation has meant that discussions and proposed community solutions tend to focus on victim blaming girls for “getting pregnant”, instead of addressing the broader issue of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as the overall status of women and girls.
What we’re doing about it: In 2018 we will be working with program participants and community representatives to change the unhelpful narrative that teenage pregnancy involves only one person – the girl – and present this as a problem that involves and impacts the community as a whole, boys and men included.
GENDER INEQUALITY IN THE CLASSROOM
The challenge: Currently most girls are learning in a classroom where they constantly experience gender inequality, face difficulties in succeeding, and lack positive female role models. It is not uncommon for a school of 800 students to have 10-15 male teachers and just one (often untrained) female ‘teacher’. The negative impact of this gender inequality and the lack of positive female role models has been raised in various discussions with our program participants and community members as a key challenge. After all, if girls don’t have examples of women who have succeeded around them, how much harder is it for them to imagine themselves succeeding?
What we’re doing about it: We are working with our program partners and Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Sierra Leone (MEST) to address the issues of gender inequality and discrimination towards females (both students and teachers) that continue to be reinforced within the classroom.
Through Business Brains we want to give girls and women access to financial literacy and life skills education, to empower them with tools to support themselves from youth to adulthood, and beyond! Training is run in informal settings for out-of-school or vulnerable girls (called Girls Clubs), and in school for high school students (both boys and girls).
HERE ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017
THE SIERRA LEONE EXPANSION
Together with our partner Restless Development Sierra Leone, 2017 saw the beginning of a two-year expansion of the Business Brains project. In summary this saw 20 new communities identified where we could run Business Brains and 10 returning communities who were re-engaged to reinforce learnings amongst the students. As a result of the Business Brains training, participants have reported earning an income through creating small businesses selling products like ground-nut and butterscotch, clothes and shoes, biscuits and palm oil. 77% of girls have reported that the training has resulted in an increase of their overall income, enabling them to better take care of themselves and their families. This is a game-changer!
THE DIALOGUE MEETINGS
As part of the Business Brains project this year we facilitated a series of Intergenerational Dialogue Meetings in every community that we had a Girls Club. These brought together key members of the community, including parent and guardians, local elders, school staff, health workers, and of course the Girls Club members themselves. During these meetings, Club members are given the opportunity – some for the very first time – to highlight the unique problems they face as girls in their communities. Working together as a collective, solutions to these problems are discussed and worked on at a community level. Both community members and Girls Club members have expressed appreciation for these meetings, and have also reported already seeing significant improvements as a result of these meetings.
THE NEW PARTNERSHIP IN UGANDA
Through our new partnership with the Bulogo Women’s Group in Uganda we were able to expand our Business Brains project into Uganda. Here’s a snapshot of what we achieved in 2017:
- Community and in-school education and advocacy across 30 communities in rural Uganda.
- 220 girls and women participated in entrepreneurial training including business management, saving, investment and record keeping.
- The Business Brains program has incorporated a mother-daughter business model, so daughters can remain in school, or go back to school, while her mother runs the business.
CHALLENGES & LESSONS LEARNT
BUSINESS STUDIES = BORING?
The challenge: After discussions with various students and teachers involved in the Sierra Leone Business Brains program, it became clear that they found the business studies component lacking, which is only a small part of the wider Business Brains curriculum. They described it as being repetitive and, at times, boring – which is the opposite of what is should be!
What we’re doing about it: Together with our partners we are continuously reviewing trainings and curriculums in collaboration with project participants to ensure the content complements the school curriculum they are being taught, and is also more engaging, practice-based and relevant!
STUDENTS CAN’T BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE
The challenge: Discussions with Business Brains participants and community members made it evident that teaching business skills to girls and encouraging them to start small businesses, had the potential to split their focus from their studies, or discourage them from returning to school altogether. These competing priorities mean that girls can spend valuable study time running their businesses, and this has a negative effect on their schooling.
What we’re doing about it: We are reviewing the objectives of our entrepreneurship programs, to ensure we are promoting study over business. We’re currently piloting a Mother-Daughter business model where mothers and daughters learn business skills together, so the mothers can sustain and grow the business while their daughters attend school.
REVISITING THE BUSINESS GRANT MODEL
The challenge: Previously Girls Clubs in the Business Brains program were given a shared ‘basket-fund’ to help members establish and maintain businesses. However, for a variety of reasons, not all of these businesses have been sustainable.
What we’re doing about it: One Girl and our partner Restless Development are working together to investigate a solution where girls are given a better opportunity to establish and maintain small businesses – with greater support from a committed community. We’re piloting some of these solutions at the moment to determine the best way forward. Stay tuned for updates!
MEET SUZAN, ONE OF OUR ‘BUSINESS BRAINS’
Suzan is just 14 years old, but already she’s a budding entrepreneur. Suzan was one of our very first Business Brains students in Uganda. She had previously graduated from primary school, but a lack of funds held her back from enrolling in secondary school. After learning about the Business Brains program Suzan was one of the first to sign herself up, and she says the impact was immediate.
“After the first training session, I felt empowered and had this burning desire to start a business. I enrolled in the program and by the second month of the training I was able to start a business. I sell vegetables: tomatoes, eggplants, amaranth, cabbages, and more.”
Suzan is seriously proud of her business and so she should be – it’s already proved to be a life-changing experience for her. The profits from her business have enabled her to buy books and enrol in secondary school, and she also used her leftover profits to buy a piglet. She named her Chozira, which is a word that means, “you always want what you don’t have.”
Suzan’s got high hopes for little Chozira. Her dream is to rear the piglet well so it can go on to produce more piglets, which Suzan can sell to pay for her ongoing school fees, and reinvest any remaining money back into her business to make it even more profitable.
Suzan says, “I am happy because I was able to join secondary school this year through doing my business and also bought a pig. My business has helped my family.”
Stories like Suzan’s remind us of what incredible things are possible when girls are given the opportunity to dream, and the chance to make those dreams a reality. We can’t wait to see what’s next for her and our hundreds of other Business Brains budding entrepreneurs!
OUR BUSINESS BRAINS IMPACT IN 2017
LaunchPad exists to empower women and girls to become leaders in their communities, who fight for equal sexual and reproductive health rights for everyone, and who drive important conversations and education around Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).
HERE ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017
THE NEW CHAMPIONS
In 2017 we trained 20 brand new LaunchPad Champions in ten secondary schools (two Champions per school) in both the capital, Freetown, and the Tonkolili district in Sierra Leone. We also added another ten communities to the LaunchPad program, training 20 new community Champions (two Champions per community). Whether they’re based in schools or in communities, all LaunchPad Champions are given MHM education and are also trained to sell sanitary pads to their peers and community members. This increases their community’s access to the vital information and healthy ways of managing their period. In each school or community the Champions lead a Savings Group comprised of members of that particular school or community who help sell the sanitary pads, and in turn share the collective profits.
THE EXPANSION INTO UGANDA
With our partners in Uganda, Bulogo Womens Group (BWG) we have piloted a program focusing on One Girl Clubs: creating an environment where girls and boys learn together and participate in discussions on topics such as girls’ education; teamwork; menstrual health and hygiene; how men and boys can support girls and women during menstruation; effective communication; and making reusable sanitary pads from local materials. This training and education is delivered through creative ‘play’, for example using music, drama, or sport to make the lessons more engaging and appropriate for students. It’s proven to be a great success so far!
THE RESEARCH PIECE
During the past 12 months we’ve been diving deep into research mode so we can take LaunchPad to the next level! We conducted an independent impact evaluation of our LaunchPad project in Sierra Leone to guide the future of this important project. We also wrapped up an extended research project in Uganda through the international NGO, BRAC, which looked at how safe MHM education and awareness influences the menstrual product choice for girls and women in urban and rural Ugandan settings. We’ve also been looking at in-house research on industry best-practice and innovations to ensure our future program plans are the best they can be. See some of the key findings below!
LAUNCHPAD RESEARCH PROJECTS
LaunchPad Evaluation in Sierra Leone
After six years of implementing the LaunchPad program in Sierra Leone, an independent evaluation was conducted to examine impact, relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability of the program. Across two districts where LaunchPad is implemented 140 people – some directly involved in the program and some not – were interviewed about their MHM knowledge, attitude and practice, as well as perceptions about MHM and the LaunchPad program itself, within the school and community context. This research is already being used to guide the future direction of LaunchPad, and we have some exciting pilots and trials starting soon that we can’t wait to share with you!
BRAC Research in Uganda
In 2017 we completed a year-long research project in collaboration with the international NGO, BRAC Uganda. The research examined education, awareness, and distribution of menstrual products in rural and urban districts of Uganda. It was run through a number of ELA (Empowering Livelihoods of Adolescents) Clubs run made up of girls and women aged 13 – 22 years. The clubs members met regularly to discuss issues important to them including health and hygiene and social support. As part of these ELA Clubs, mentors were trained on MHM and sales and promotion helped spread awareness and knowledge of MHM and sanitary product choices available to the members.
Across our extended research project in Uganda through BRAC, and our Sierra Leone LaunchPad Evaluation, here are some key findings that have affirmed the importance of the LaunchPad program, and also given us an understanding of where to take LaunchPad next.
SIERRA LEONE: LAUNCHPAD EVALUATION
UGANDA: BRAC RESEARCH
At the beginning of the research project, almost all respondents agreed that menstruation must be kept a secret. Participants reported experiencing fear and embarrassment when others (especially men and boys) knew that they were on their period. Participants explained that they often feared attending school or work if they did not have suitable materials for managing their period, with fear against increased likelihood of leakage.
CHALLENGES & LESSONS LEARNT
THE NEED FOR NEW PADS
The challenge: We’ve received lots of feedback that customers were finding the type of disposable pad being offered through the Sierra Leone LaunchPad program to be uncomfortable and not absorbent enough for customers. This feedback was affirmed through the LaunchPad Evaluation completed in Sierra Leone in 2017.
What we’re doing about it: We’re investigating more options for women and girls in the community to be able to healthily manage their periods in a way that is both affordable and comfortable. In the meantime, we’re currently trialing a new supplier of disposable sanitary pads and early results are promising, with Champions reporting they are selling through their inventory faster than with the previous product!
PRIORITISING PAD SALES OVER STUDIES
The challenge: Many of our school-based LaunchPad group members are incredibly excited by the prospect of starting a small business selling sanitary pads to their friends and peers. Coupled with the great need for sanitary products in schools, we’ve found that many LaunchPad group members have prioritised earning a profit through selling pads to their peers at school, rather than being completely focused on their studies. Similar to the challenge we’ve found in Business Brains – there needs to be a balance between empowering girls with entrepreneurial skills and opportunities, without compromising on the most important thing – which is their formal education within the classroom!
What we’re doing about it: Reflecting on the successes of our pilot program in Uganda we see that the approach of using clubs made up of boys and girls learning about MHM and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) through sport, music and drama to be a more effective, appropriate and targeted approach to meet our objectives for the MHM in-school program- so we’re exploring ways to bring that to Sierra Leone!
SUPPORTING SAVINGS GROUPS BEYOND BASICS
The challenge: While it’s been remarkable and downright inspiring to see the LaunchPad Savings Groups invest their collective profits into the wellbeing of others and improvement of their communities (eg. healthcare and roads), this has been at the detriment of investing back in their own business, so they’re unable to scale and grow it as much as they should be.
What we’re doing about it: As the LaunchPad program expands, monitoring the growth of these groups and the demand within communities is important to ensure the model’s success. We’re analysing the current business model and looking at potential ways to support the LaunchPad Savings Groups to expand their businesses beyond basic necessities.
OUR LAUNCHPAD IMPACT IN 2017
UGANDA: BRAC PARTNERSHIP
UGANDA: BULOGO WOMEN'S GROUP PARTNERSHIP
Through School Awesomisation we want to create effective, inclusive, and safe learning environments that cater to the needs of all children, no matter their gender or their ability. Last year, our focus was on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects in schools.
HERE ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017
THE NEW PARTNERSHIP
In 2017 we began a new partnership with a local Sierra Leone organisation called Sierra Leone Social Aid Volunteers (SLSAV), to help us focus our School Awesomisation around WASH projects in schools. In the first year of the project we successfully completed two WASH projects in two rural Sierra Leone schools: one in a primary school, and one in a secondary school. As part of these projects we constructed seven toilet blocks with a total of 18 drop hole latrines, as well as hand dug wells to establish a water source alongside the toilets. As part of these projects, we ensured students and staff at both schools were educated on the importance of WASH at school and at home.
THE COMMUNITY SUPPORT
As with all of our projects, we wanted these new WASH projects to be completely community-led. So our partner SLSAV trained 60 leaders from both communities and schools to manage and lead the program. These community members included teachers, health workers, peer educators and school health club reps (LaunchPad Champions or Savings Group members) who all worked together to achieve the program’s goals. We know that once the project is completed on our end, these community leaders will provide ongoing support and guidance to ensure that the program is successful long-term. Madam Tabeh (pictured) was one of the teachers involved in the project, and she said, “[One Girl] involved the community in the project so that they can have some ownership and help to look after the toilet blocks… it is the school and the community’s responsibility to make sure they are well kept.”
We embrace opportunities to foster innovation and creative solutions. As part of the School Awesomisation project in 2017, an engineer from SLSAV spearheaded a new design for the safe and hygienic disposal of pads in schools. The solution provides a place where girls can change their pads in private and includes a small waste unit (similar to a basic pit latrine) and access to water for hygiene purposes. We hope this innovative design will influence future policy not just for our own programs, but by the wider Sierra Leone school system.
HERE’S HOW LEARNING ABOUT WATER, SANITATION & HYGIENE (WASH) HAS MADE SCHOOL SAFER FOR KADIATU…
“Before the new toilets were installed here, we had very dirty old toilets. They were not nice to use, and there was not enough of them. There were only four toilets for everyone in the school (we are around 1,000 students) so you would always have to wait a long time. I used to get a bad stomach a lot before, and used to miss school frequently because of diarrhoea, but now I am not getting that anymore. I’d often have to stay at home for around three days when I was sick. I would borrow my friends’ books to catch up on what I’d missed but I would not understand what they had written. It wasn’t really easy to catch up.”
“I never washed my hands before, because we never had any water. Before they taught us about sanitation at school I used to just drink the water from the well. Now I put a chemical in it to make it safe to drink, it means I am getting sick less. When I have children I’ll definitely teach them about hygiene and sanitation. I want to show them what I have learned in this WASH program at school. I’ve suffered in the past from diarrhoea and I don’t want them to suffer too!”
CHALLENGES & LESSONS LEARNT
HEALTHY STUDENTS MEANS HEALTHY SCHOOLS
The challenge: During previous Monitoring & Evaluation trips, inadequate WASH was identified by 44% of those we interviewed as a major challenge for girls’ education – and for everyone else who was expected to learn and teach in an unhealthy and ineffective school environment. Most schools we work in lack adequate functioning toilets for their school size, and some don’t have them at all.
What we did about it: One Girl’s new WASH in schools initiative was a welcome addition to our efforts to supporting girls’ education, and this is something we are encouraged to continue and build on in the coming years.
The challenge: Naturally, any project dealing with human waste needs to be designed to minimise environmental impact, yet with limited resources this was something we were not able to achieve to full capacity this year.
What we’re doing about it: There are some great initiatives already addressing this, and with further investigation and research, we will be able to identify improvements that we can incorporate into our own program as we continue to scale and expand our WASH in schools initiative.
MITIGATING THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
The challenge: As with all of our programs, we need to seriously consider the environmental consequences of our projects, including implications for long-term sustainability and mitigating climate change. It was identified through this pilot that we need to do further training and capacity building around the relationship between menstrual hygiene, environmental sanitation, and climate change.
What we’re doing about it: We will ensure a climate change mitigation strategy is integrated into all future WASH projects to meet international standards in environmental sustainability. In the future all of our WASH education curriculums will have a specific focus on behaviour change to develop climate change resiliency.
OUR SCHOOL AWESOMISATION IMPACT IN 2017
WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU
None of this (we mean NONE of it) would have been possible without you! We are a people-powered movement that is driven by your passion and belief in the fact that EVERY girl deserves an education.
Whether you volunteered with us, put on a school dress for Do It In A Dress, became an Ambassador, were a member of our regular giving program Graduation, gave a once-off donation, pledged your birthday, fundraised, attended a One Girl talk, purchased something from the One Girl Shop, or generally showed us support, love, and passion…
We hope you realise that YOU have played a part in educating and empowering over 11,640 girls and women this year!
WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO THESE LEGENDS
These incredible business partners helped make all of this possible!
Wildings Pantry Essentials
The Change Box
Viktoria and Woods
Secret Salon Society
Create Live Grow
Sherlock Holmes Lending Solutions
Champion Event Group
She Went Wild
Sustainable Resource Use
The Rushing Hour
Spruce Craft Co
Dew & Rose
Soul Sisters Jewelry
Awesome Adventure Chick
Your Strategic Freedom
Global Education Academy
Lilac and Berries
The Mindful Collective
AND IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR WAYS YOU CAN BE PART OF OUR MOVEMENT TO EDUCATE GIRLS, HERE ARE JUST A FEW….
DONATE AT TAX-TIME TO HELP EDUCATE GIRLS
You can make a tax-deductible end of financial year donation to help us reach more girls through our education initiatives. Donate by June 30, 2018.
BECOME A MEMBER OF GRADUATION
By joining Graduation, our regular giving program, you’ll be providing ongoing support to ensure our Scholarship girls are supported all the way until they graduate from high school!
GET IN TOUCH
Have an awesome new fundraising idea or initiative we could be involved in? We’d love to connect with you and give you more information about how you can join our movement for girls’ education!