Promoting Girls' Education to delay age of Marriage
The campaign is geared towards promoting education for girls in order to delay age of marriage and avail them of the opportunity to reach their fullest potentials.
As a survivor of teenage pregnancy, Isatou Jeng made education her strongest weapon to get to where she is today and living a life of a feminist and a women's human rights defender.
The campaign involves school and community outreach activities as well as radio talk shows where she uses herself as a living testimony to the importance of educating a girl child. The campaign is also done using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Jeng believes that education is the most reliable weapon to bridge the gender gap and break the vicious cycle of poverty. When girls are allowed to complete high school, they are determined to go higher and with this, their future is brighter, communities are developed and nations will prosper. The campaign's slogan is 'Progress for Girls means progress for all'.
To help promote girls' education
To contribute in raising the retention rate of girls in schools.
To delay age of marriage.
To contribute in bringing an end to child, early and forced marriage.
To break the vicious cycle of poverty by keeping girls in schools.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
The campaign succeeded in influencing behavior and attitudes of the people towards promoting girls' education.
Using herself as a living testimony in promoting girls' education, most parents are now convinced that marriage is not the best solution for their girl-children and have promised to do all they can in keeping their daughters in school.
And for the girls, they felt inspired by Jeng's achievements despite the challenges she went through in life; they are more determined than ever before to pursue higher education and be more empowered. The campaign has prompted some schools to form school clubs geared towards promoting girls' education and empowerment.
Once a no go area, child marriage is now talked about everywhere across the country. People are now conscious of the consequences of child marriage as a human rights violation that robs girls off their right to education, health and self determination.
IEC materials were made and distributed in schools and communities. Stickers were pasted in public places and on vehicles and laptops. The social media was also occupied but taking consideration of the illiteracy rate of the country, most of the community outreach activities are done in the native languages targeting parents.
The retention rate of girls in schools has increased considerably as well as the enrollment rate of girls in university and other tertiary institutions.
Knowledge on the consequences of child marriage have also increased.
Religion and culture have been the biggest challenge, where some people perceived the campaign to be a western idea which is trying to challenge the tradition of the people.
Others have also misinterpreted the religious teachings of Islam by justifying child marriage.
Aside from culture and religion, the lack of a legal provision, stating 18 as the minimum legal age for marriage, is also a challenge.
Another challenge is funding to reach out to a wider audience of the country.
Using the local language in communities was very strategic and making best use of influential leaders in facilitating community outreach activities.
It was also realized that not many people understand the consequences of child marriage and the negative results of not educating a girl child. Also, there are some girls in the communities who are willing to go to school but do not have the financial means to do so.
All what the girls need is support and guidance to be able to stay in school and realize their dreams and these can be done through mentorship and coaching.