In addition to the universal barriers faced by both genders in Malawi, females often face further difficulties accessing education. Males are often prioritized to attend school over their female siblings, particularly if the family cannot afford school fees for each child in the family. Girls who do attend secondary school are more likely to drop out due to additional pressures such as early marriage and pregnancy. Figures from the World Bank show that only 27% of Malawian girls enroll in secondary school, and over half of girls in Northern Malawi are married by the age of 18. Determined to Develop’s Youth Sponsorship program, which offers school fee sponsorship to many young girls in the area, is complemented by our non-formal girls’ empowerment programs, which target young females at local primary and secondary schools in an attempt to tackle the inequality in access to education between males and females.
Female Mentorship Program: This program aims to provide a strong sense of support and guidance to local secondary school girls. Combining one-on-one support with small group sessions, the program prioritizes education and positively directs each girl to see her schooling through until the end. Determined to Develop currently has 65 secondary school girls in its Female Mentorship Program.
Girls Club: This is Determined to Develop’s largest non-formal education initiative. Facilitated by the D2D female staff members three times a week, Girls Club is an all-female safe space and each lesson is focused on empowering the girls, developing life skills, and giving them the tools needed to overcome challenges and continue their education. Using separate, large group sessions for the primary and secondary school girls, lessons cover topics such as self-esteem, leadership, goal setting, study techniques, positive behavior, public speaking, and healthy relationships. More than 135 local primary and secondary school aged girls attend D2D’s Girls Clubs.
Income-Generating Activities: D2D’s newest girls’ empowerment initiative is the start-up of a chicken raising business. Surveys of the secondary school girls in our programming showed that the largest cause of female dropout was due to lack of funds and, even though D2D offers school tuition sponsorship, many girls were lacking funds for basic needs such as toiletries, school supplies, and even food. Helping to develop an income-generating chicken raising business is a way for them to earn pocket money that can support them while they finish their educations and offer critical business and leadership skills. Trainings are held with the secondary school girls to prepare them with record keeping, budgeting, and business management tools, as well as the information needed to raise chickens. Once the activity is off the ground, we look forward to seeing the girls take complete ownership of this project.