Last week I wrote about the seminar on girl education and empowerment that was hosted by BRAC , the world’s largest non-government development organization. A take away that I failed to mention was this idea of providing “safe spaces.” Think of it as a real life social network or a girls only club. Sorry boys.
Former BRAC Bangladesh senior manager in the education program, Farzana Kashfi, turned this idea on its head. In most developing countries women don’t have spaces to themselves where men aren’t allow. Often times boys will hang out in public roadside or at the shops in town, but you would hardly see girls gathering. By providing women with a “safe space” in the form of these “girl empowerment clubs,” they can escape the pressures of family life and pressures of a male-centrist society to focus inward and share their story in this real life social network. There are about 10,000 of these clubs worldwide with about 275,000 members who gather to sing, dance, learn and thrive. Peer mentors, who are trained by BRAC teach the girls life skills, health awareness, financial independence with access to micro-loans and ways to reach their fullest potential.
To watch Kashfi describe more on “Safe Spaces” watch the clip here.time stamp: [40:00-44:55]
Earlier this week I attended a seminar via webcast on Girls Education and Women’s Empowerment in Real World Social Networks as part of Social Media Week in NY.
The speakers were from BRAC USA and Bangladesh, Pro Mujer, and She’s the First.
The organizations focus on helping girls who live in developing countries succeed and develop life skills through education, During the event the panel of development practitioners discussed how building real social networks through education both inside and outside the classroom, particularly for women and girls, leads to both social and financial empowerment.
I’m the first…to graduate college. Photo by Jessica Dodds http://jessicasheaphotography.com/
Out of all the organizations that participated in the event, She’s the First I really felt connected with because I am the first of my family to graduate college. Founded by Tammy Tibbetts in Nov. 2009, She’s the First is a not-for-profit that sponsors girls’ education in the developing world, helping them be the first in their families to graduate, not just college but high school. In the process, STF fosters leadership and global awareness in young Americans, by inspiring them to lead creative fundraisers and correspond with sponsored students throughout the world. Pretty cool stuff. Their efforts shape a rising generation of well-educated global leaders, future philanthropists and cross-cultural communicators.