Goal 3 Promote gender equality and empower women

Gender

One of the targets of this goal is to enable girls to attend all levels of schooling in equal numbers to boys.

Providing girls with a future and a hope
by Ines Caballero

Mosoj Yan is an organisation working with young street girls and working girls in Bolivia. There are around 800,000 children working in Bolivia, many of them living on the streets. Most of these young people are illiterate. In rural areas, nine out of ten girls drop out of school.

Mosoj Yan (which means New Way in the Quechua language) runs programmes for about 700 girls who live on the streets. The work is based on care, rehabilitation and social and family reintegration. We have a training centre where these girls can receive educational support, legal advice, healthcare, counselling and guidance. Girls who cannot attend the centre can join one of five working groups based in different city markets, close to where they work. These groups provide educational support, leadership training and promote self-development, defending rights and fulfilling obligations. This work is designed to motivate the teenagers to change their lifestyle and to show them other ways of survival, through recognising their skills and strengthening their vocational skills.

Mosoj Yan encourages schooling as key in preventing these children remaining on the streets. We work with the families and community so they take responsibility for the development and wellbeing of the young girls. Mosoj Yan has a nursery school, and works to encourage good mother-child relationships and to reduce the risks for babies who live with their mothers on the streets.

Low self-esteem is one of the main reasons why young girls leave home to live on the streets – where they are likely to become involved in commercial sex work, become pregnant, commit suicide or participate in criminal groups. Mosoj Yan works to restore their self-esteem and self-image, as women with opportunities, skills and goals for the future. We try to empower them and strengthen their leadership skills. We encourage a healthy expression of their feelings, emotions and thoughts.

We believe both men and women can bring about change in our society. We work against cultural stereotypes about gender, which discriminate against women and girls. We can all speak out, both for our own rights and to defend the rights of others. We can all have hope in a better future, in which we can achieve our dreams and discover God’s purpose in our lives.

When Mosoj Yan works with one of these young girls, we are not only working with them, but with the children they may have in the future. Getting them back into school provides them with an economic future, but it is also a source of hope, for improving the social situation of the country. Hundreds of girls who have gone through our programme over the last 14 years have been able to finish their studies and many of them have gone on to university.  

Noelia’s story

Noelia left her violent and broken home when she was 13 years old. She lived on the streets with her partner. She didn’t know how to care for her young daughter properly, and considered her life was useless and without meaning. She didn’t trust anybody. She had never known the presence of God in her life, since she believed that nobody would be able to love her as she was.

After the birth of her second child, Mosoj Yan encouraged Noelia to go back to school. First they helped her to recognise her skills and interests and restore her self confidence. They also helped her learn to control her violence. Above all, they encouraged her to restore her relationship with God.

Noelia went back to night school and finished her studies successfully. She began training in nursery school education and graduated last year. Now she works in a nursery for babies whose mothers live on the streets. Her experience and training are a real blessing for the teenagers who find themselves living in similar situations.

Noelia’s relationship with her children has improved incredibly. Her two eldest children are studying at school and she has shown herself to be a responsible and caring mother. The circle of violence has been broken. Now Noelia is a renewed, restored woman, full of hope for the future that God has prepared for her and for her children.

Giovanna’s story

Giovanna is a 24 year old woman who came to the city from the countryside. She used to sell lemons on the streets with her mother and sister. She attended only two years of primary school and so had difficulty with reading and writing. However, she had good numeracy skills and other skills necessary for her daily life. Giovanna lost her father at a very young age, and her mother considered that she did not need schooling since she was a girl. Giovanna had low self-esteem and struggled with thoughts of suicide and feelings of uselessness.

Mosoj Yan began by looking at her interests and skills, and discovered that she had a real ability for cooking and for making sweets and cakes. At the same time, they worked to improve her self-esteem. She began vocational training. Encouraged by teachers on the project and friends from church, she overcame her fear and returned to night school to continue her training.

Giovanna now works as a head chef and cookery teacher. Her life has been transformed and she now helps other young girls and teenagers, sharing her experience with them. She provides financial support for her family and has helped her younger sister finish school.

Ines Caballero is the Director of Mosoj Yan. Mosoj Yan’s address is Casilla 4654, Cochabamba, Bolivia. E-mail: mosojyan@supernet.com.bo

Case study: Koinonia

The organisation, Koinonia, works among the Rishi people of Bangladesh, running 32 schools and special education centres to promote basic education. Rishi people belong to the lower caste of Hinduism and are treated as ‘dalits’. Most are not literate. Children have to help with work and household chores. Girls are particularly neglected, so Koinonia pays special attention to increasing girls’ enrolment in these schools.

As well as basic education, the curriculum includes cultural activities, play time and parents’ days. The community is involved in the management of these schools, and parents attend regular meetings where they can share their views on the running of the schooling programme. This programme has raised awareness of the importance of education as the basis of development and the literacy rate in the Rishi community is rising every day.

Dennis Dilip Datta is Executive Director of Koinonia, PO Box 8089, Mirpur-2, Dhaka – 1216, Bangladesh. E-mail: koinonia@bdonline.com

Other ideas to meet Goal 3

  • Improve water supplies so that girls have more time to attend school.
  • Through advocacy, reform and enforce legislation which guarantees women property and inheritance rights.

Progress on Goal 3

In Latin America the overall target for education has almost been reached. However, women – especially indigenous women – are still marginalised.

Elsewhere progress is slow and without huge effort this goal is unlikely to be met.