Written by Zeinat E. Issahaku
When I was growing up as a girl from a little town in the Upper West Region of Ghana, my father did not believe in women aspiring to greater heights in education. Even though I had bigger ambitions for myself, he believed strongly that some amount of education was enough for a girl and so right after high school, he was always pushing hard for me to bring a man home, get settled and start building a home of my own.
A lot of girls around the world especially Africa, have in one way or the other, found themselves in similar situations like this. Even though the world is changing and women are rising above social norms and going after their dreams and ambitions, there are still a lot of young bright girls out there who are stuck with limited choices about their lives.
In this article, I have suggested some ways we can help uplift young bright girls and encourage them to dream big and chase their ambitions.
Firstly, charity they say begins at home, therefore, it is important to encourage our daughters, nieces, sisters, neighbors, etc to believe in themselves and what they can become if they set their minds to it. A simple “I am proud of you” or “you can do this” can go a long way to uplifting young girls to keep going.
Secondly, poverty can be a hindrance to the development of a lot of young girls around the world. They often get less food, receive less education, and are disproportionately affected by poor sanitation. Therefore, in order to help these young girls flourish, it is important for governments and individuals to help in one way or the other to help these young girls get basic necessities such as water, food, clothing and an education.
As Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey rightly said, “if you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate an entire nation”. Education is a very important tool in empowering young girls, yet, according to World Vision international, 130 million girls ages 6 to 17 are out of school. Getting an education will give girls the freedom to make decisions to improve their lives- they will get better jobs, earn higher wages, make better life choices and consequently help their families. It is also very important that education environments are made safe for girls.
Lastly, mentorship is very important in the upbringing of young women. By reaching out to mentor a girl or young woman, you can change her life and put everyone’s future in good hands. Research has proven that mentoring improves self-confidence, leadership, and communication skills for both mentor and mentee. Therefore, it is important for women in leadership, business and academia to offer their time and resources to guide and mold these young girls into responsible women.
Everyday around the world, society is changing slowly and women are challenging the status quo. Although governments and several Non-governmental Organizations around the world are making conscious efforts to empower and educate women, it is also up to us individuals to encourage and provide opportunities for young girls to strive.