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Yet, right now, decades of progress are being reversed due to COVID-19’s devastating impact. Over 20 million more secondary school age girls will not go back to school after the pandemic2 - especially if they've started their period.
In Uganda, at least 700,000 girls aged six to 12 have never attended school. This will get far higher with ongoing lockdowns due to the pandemic.
As global pressures rise, girls are losing their freedom and future: they are the first taken out of school and last to return.
Women are on the frontline of the climate crisis and deforestation. Forest loss degrades soil, reduces biodiversity and intensifies drought - compounded by increasingly extreme weather. Responsible for food, water and firewood women are the most vulnerable from these impacts - catalysed by COVID-19.
Yet, empowered women are proven leaders in their community.
Educating girls breaks the poverty cycle. Salaries rise, early marriage is reduced, health improves and economies strengthen. As opportunity increases population growth decreases, reducing pressure on natural resources and increasing environmental conservation.
But female schooling is marginalised, particularly when girls hit puberty
Over 80% of girls in Uganda skip school during their period each month3. 30% drop out altogether.
Sanitary products have become extortionately expensive and rare. Schools have inadequate facilities. Girls also fear being bullied. So girls go absent, negatively impacting their studies. This increases cultural pressures, forcing girls to quit, enter early marriage or even fall pregnancy
There is a simple, self-sufficient solution. Through our Girls' Empowerment Project we equip girls and their communities to better understand female health. We teach them how to create their own reusable sanitary pads from locally sourced materials. We enable them to educate their friends and generate a sustainable income. By ending period poverty, we empower young women to stay in school to realise their full potential.
Help us give girls back their education - to improve quality of life for all.
“I was suffering too much, I didn't know how to help myself. The boys are laughing, you feel ashamed. You are absent from school because you fear other children, that they will laugh at you, so you stay at home.
"So you cut your clothes to use them. I thank JGI very much for their sanitary pads. They have helped me and my friends so much!"
Tuhaise Mary - Nyabigoma Primary School, Hoima.
“The number of girls attending classes and performance has improved. Boys no longer laugh at girls on their periods: they understand it's a natural part of life."
"I have a better understanding of the challenges girls face and really love being a part of the positive impact the Girls Empowerment proejct has on others."
Rubinah, Teacher - Kasongoire Primary School, Budongo
By giving young women a full education you create world-changing positive impact:
Forests in rural Uganda are rapidly disappearing. This is due to increased farming, logging, settlement, industrial agriculture, forest fires and the refugee crisis. Desperate chimps raid villages and plantations for food - increasing human conflicts, with fatal consequences on both sides. Chimp poaching is also on the rise for both bushmeat and the illegal wildlife trade as the pandemic decimates livelihoods and food security.
Since 2008, we’ve worked with local schools in targeted areas where high numbers of chimps live outside protected areas - putting them at high risk from multiple threats.
By educating girls near these chimp habitats, we start building long term change. By reducing local poverty, we reduce pressure on the forest. By empowering female leaders, we increase environmental stewardship - and chimp protections.
By working for animals, people and environment we improve life for all.
“Unless we do something to alleviate poverty, there is no way we can save chimpanzees or the forests."
- Dr. Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE. Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace.
2. According to Malala Fund Report - Girls’ Education and COVID-19
3. 84% of girls surveyed stay away from school during menstruation: Study on menstrual management in Uganda The Netherlands Development Organization (SNV)/IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre
4. According to UNESCO data research by Project Drawdown
5. United Nations Girls Education Initiative Report Missed opportunities: the high cost of not educating girls
6. FAO Committee on World Food Security - Policy Roundtable: Gender, Food Security and Nutrition 2011
7. Brookings Institute via publication - What Works in Girls’ Education: Evidence for the World's Best Investment
8. Women Deliver