Girls' Education Not Child Marriage

A Seed of Hope

  • Post Featured Image

    Dear United Nations, What were you thinking?

    Thanks to our guest blogger, Jane Holt.

    Dear United Nations,
    Your appointment of Wonder Woman as an ambassador to "empower" women and girls is a damning indictment of your commitment to making change. Your previous campaign asked us to tell you what we want, "what [we] really, really want". And we did. We said we'd like a female head of the UN, please, We said we want education for girls, please. We said we want an end to child marriages, please. We said we want women to have the vote everywhere, please. We said we want equal pay for women, please. We said we want real change, please. And you gave us Wonder Woman?!? In return, you said be placated with a fictional character. You said we don't really care what women want. You said you don't value the experience and feedback of your own cadre of female staffers, 1000 strong, who protested this inane appointment. You said you didn't really mean it when you asked us to tell you what we want. Now that you've had your little joke, why don't you bring out a real ambassador for change. Give us a woman like Elizabeth Warren, who works for positive change for women everyday. Give us a woman like my mother, who runs a foundation to change the lives of women and girls through education. Give us a woman like Angela Merkel, who love her or loathe her, stood up for human rights and what was right in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. Give us Malala who survived trauma and prejudice to be a proud example of educated girlhood. Give us a woman who is smart and strong and, most importantly, real. Give us a woman that our girls can actually grow up to be like - because she's smart, and articulate, and educated, and funny, and emotionally intelligent. We don't need wrist bands and an invisible plane to be bullet proof. We need confidence, and self esteem, and a genuine example to follow. Give us that if you really want to change the world. 
    Yours, 
    Disappointed and Disgruntled Woman, Mother, Daughter
    Macleod

  • Why Women's empowerment is So Important

    I can't say it any better than Mr. Michael Higgins.

     Remarks by President Higgins at the World Humanitarian Summit - Day 2.mp4


  • The Week From Hell

    Ever have a week you think must have come straight from hell? That's what this week has been like, personally and professionally. And that's fair enough, because every grief is real and it hurts. No doubt about that. Yet when I think about the girls we serve, their every day can be from hell. Just today, The Age reported on the danger to young children harvesting tobacco in Java. 

    Child Labour. Harvesting Tobacco

    "Human Rights Watch says thousands of children, some as young as eight, are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides and extreme heat. Many have symptoms consistent with "green tobacco sickness", where nicotine is absorbed through the skin from tobacco leaves and enters the bloodstream. Read more                                                 

    Photo credit: HRW

    Such child labour is one of the evils we wish to curtail by educating girls and young women. We will never know exactly what specific illnesses we have prevented by keeping girls in school. But we do know she will earn more, she will live longer, her children will be better nourished, better educated and in better health. 

    You can help little girls like this by making a tax deductible donation to The Sunflower Foundation Public Fund or just SMS Girls to 0437 371 371

  • Girls' Education Not Child Marriage

    The Evils of Child Marriage

    In many countries Child Marriage is illegal yet it still continues, especially in developing countries where girls are seen as a liability. Child marriage, apart from it's inherent aspect of paedophilia, holds great risks for these girls. The young Maasai girl (left) has just been sold into marriage to a 75 year old man for 16 goats.  She is about 11 years  old, in form I. She will be more vulnerable to violence and abuse, and, should she fall pregnant, has 60% more chance of dying in childbirth than a girl over 16. If her husband has HIV/AIDS, then she has a high chance of infection too. 

    Fortunately, thanks to her mother, and our project partner, Sophia Mwakagenda, founder of the Tanzania Women and Youth Development Society and parliamentarian, this is one girl who will avoid this fate.

    Last week, the child's mother called Sophia for help. When Sophia arrived at the village, another mother approached Sophia asking for help for her daughter, who hadMaasai Child Bride, Form 2 been sold for 14 cows. This girl is in Form II. The reason in both cases? Their fathers didn't want to spend money on their school fees. The police were called in, and all parties agreed that it was best if Sophia took the girls to a refuge, as their fathers had absconded. Now the girls are safe and will have an education that will empower them to be self-sufficient and role models for other Masai girls.

    We heartily support the ending of child marriage and we congratulate Sophia on her advocacy for these young girls.

    Hopefully, our joint project with the Tanzania Women and Youth Development Society - Sasa Naweza (Now I Can) will facilitate change in social attitudes.

    This project has twin goals: to educate communities about the benefits of girls' education and empower girls by teaching them about their legal rights, illegality of child marriage, the benefits of education, and reproductive health, especially, how to protect themselves from teenage pregnancy and HIV.  For every year a girl stays in secondary school, her risk of AIDS is reduced by 12%. 

    With your help, we can help more girls avoid child marriage, HIV, and gain the education that will permit them to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.

    Click here for all the options we can offer for donations. 

     


  • Australia's Foreign Minister Highlights the Importance of Educating Girls

    Today, we are privileged to have a guest post written by Justine Roach, of Loyalty Marketing, Melbourne. 

    We know we’re on to something special when we hear Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, calling for the empowerment of women through education.

    In her article “More than a Woman” (March 2016 Vogue), Bishop notes that “Women make up the majority of illiterate adults worldwide. An estimated 545 million women over the age of 15 years lack basic literacy skills: almost 65 percent of the total number of illiterate people worldwide.”

    Bishop discusses Australian economic initiatives already successfully in place in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea – such as mobile banking and credit services - which provide security and business opportunities for women in their local communities.  To further facilitate this grass roots education, aid and basic support services such as counselling and shelter, Bishop has appointed Natasha Stott-Despoja as Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls.

    We applaud Bishop’s recognition of women and our vital role within the community which is currently “significantly under-utilised.”  Bishop is intending to change this with $745 million in educational aid in developing countries.

    Bishop’s vision validates the importance.The Sunflower Foundation and others like them.  (Full article available here)

    Our image above is of a little Ecuadorian girl whose mother attended workshops at Inti Sisa, Guamote, which we funded for their education and women's sewing classes. Now she has a future because her mother is no longer dependent on subsistence farming. 

     

     

  • Seeds of Hope

     As we are kicking off a new website in a new year, I thought it would be good to remind ourselves of why we bother. Why do we spend so much of our retirement running a charity? Why do Committee members commit to meetings? Why do people bother to donate or support us in some other way?

    It's because when we fund an education project for girls and young women, we are not just teaching them something, but sowing seeds of hope for their futures, their families and their communities. Education is a long term project, we have to wait years for the ultimate payoff. But none of us would pull our own children out of school because of that. Rather, we teach them it is an investment in their future.  


    Three years funding of teacher training in Uganda has seen 42 young women qualified as teachers, and some are now training other teachers in computer literacy. They are networking schools to share resources and support. They are identifying girls at risk of dropping out of school due to illegal child marriage, rape, teen pregnancy and violence. 

     

    Then there is the long term. Forty classrooms with properly trained teachers and thirty more being trained each year. Generations of children being better taught. Our donors and supporters have helped create this amazing ripple effect that will flow through society. What an achievement. Seeing education, work opportunities, good health flourish because we funded a Rural Education Centre in Jinja Province in Uganda.


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Girls' Education Not Child Marriage

The Evils of Child Marriage

In many countries Child Marriage is illegal yet it still continues, especially in developing countries where girls are seen as a liability. Child marriage, apart from it's inherent aspect of paedophilia, holds great risks for these girls. The young Maasai girl (left) has just been sold into marriage to a 75 year old man for 16 goats.  She is about 11 years  old, in form I. She will be more vulnerable to violence and abuse, and, should she fall pregnant, has 60% more chance of dying in childbirth than a girl over 16. If her husband has HIV/AIDS, then she has a high chance of infection too. 

Fortunately, thanks to her mother, and our project partner, Sophia Mwakagenda, founder of the Tanzania Women and Youth Development Society and parliamentarian, this is one girl who will avoid this fate.

Last week, the child's mother called Sophia for help. When Sophia arrived at the village, another mother approached Sophia asking for help for her daughter, who hadMaasai Child Bride, Form 2 been sold for 14 cows. This girl is in Form II. The reason in both cases? Their fathers didn't want to spend money on their school fees. The police were called in, and all parties agreed that it was best if Sophia took the girls to a refuge, as their fathers had absconded. Now the girls are safe and will have an education that will empower them to be self-sufficient and role models for other Masai girls.

We heartily support the ending of child marriage and we congratulate Sophia on her advocacy for these young girls.

Hopefully, our joint project with the Tanzania Women and Youth Development Society - Sasa Naweza (Now I Can) will facilitate change in social attitudes.

This project has twin goals: to educate communities about the benefits of girls' education and empower girls by teaching them about their legal rights, illegality of child marriage, the benefits of education, and reproductive health, especially, how to protect themselves from teenage pregnancy and HIV.  For every year a girl stays in secondary school, her risk of AIDS is reduced by 12%. 

With your help, we can help more girls avoid child marriage, HIV, and gain the education that will permit them to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.

Click here for all the options we can offer for donations. 

 


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