250 million children worldwide cannot read or write. They do not have access to quality education.
Quality education was one of the themes of this year’s She’s the First Campus Leadership Summit, a weekend where student leaders across the country come together to learn and share leadership skills, fundraising tips, the importance of girls’ education, and the stories of our scholars.
Starting off the weekend was a panel of astounding women, including Gretel Truong from the Malala Fund, who spoke about a quality approach to success in schools. Gretel emphasized safety – both in school and at home – as an invaluable part of providing quality education. The panel also explained the importance of connections; between students and the peers and adults in their lives. One way to foster such connections is through mentorship programs, such as the one seen at Starfish One By One, one of the She’s the First partner schools in Guatemala.
Strafish runs the “PODER” (POWER) program to empower their female students and educate them in women’s rights, proactive communication, financial literacy, reproductive education, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. These mentors are trained members of the same communities as the students they work so hard to prepare for a successful life in Guatemala. Starfish, and many of the other She’s the First partner schools, works hard to foster a quality environment in which their students can learn, both in the classroom and at home, through interviews and weekly meetings with students’ families.
Representatives from many She’s the First partner programs were in attendance at this year’s Summit. John Wanda, the founder of the Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda shared a common phrase in his community: “If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Ana Teresa, a She’s the First sponsored scholar from Starfish One By One had similar testaments, saying with pride that with education, girls like her can change the world. They, along with the entire room of people they were addressing, believe that quality education can change not only the life of the girl, but generations of girls after her.
This year’s Summit conquered topics from feminism to leaving your legacy as a leader, but we were all united by a single goal: to provide quality education to girls throughout the world. Whether you live in Guatemala, Uganda, Nepal, or the United States, you deserve a safe, supported space in which to learn. As Renee Joslyn, Director of Girls and Women Integration at the Clinton Global Initiative, stated in the Diverse Voices in Feminism panel, it is a privilege that we can sit in a room and discuss matters such as these. Let us continue to broaden the reach of this conversation and work to create a global environment where women have the right to fair treatment and quality educational opportunity.