This program supports the ongoing efforts of a girls’ education, rights training, and leadership program, launched in January 2009. The intent is to invest deeply in a small number of girls with significant potential but who are trapped by their families’ poverty. By combining access to schooling with rights training sessions, experiential learning visits, and mentoring, the likelihood increases that these young women will, in time, emerge as leaders, grounded in grassroots realities and having the confidence and capability to become important leaders in a global context, there their voices, ideas, and skills are needed.
Across the developing world, schooling to a higher level is often the crucial factor in changing the course of an individual’s life, as it opens up new opportunities and avenues for action that otherwise would be unavailable. The potential for individual and societal change—and advances in levels of human development—provided by formal education is significant, and well documented, particularly in the case of girls. As Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn note in their new book, Half the Sky
, the girls and women of the Global South often hold the solutions to the most pressing development challenges faced by their communities and nations. “Educating girls,” they write, “may be the single most cost-effective way to empower and modernize societies, to help people help themselves.”
The Maasai experience high rates of poverty and are largely marginalized within the nation-state, and their levels of economic development, education, health, gender equality, and political voice are all low. Too many Maasai girls do not receive the benefits of formal education, thereby closing off a myriad of options, including the developing much-needed leadership. It is estimated that only 10 percent of Maasai individuals finish secondary (high) school or higher-level education. For girls, the statistics are more dire: less than 1 percent completes secondary or higher schooling.
Our goal is to develop a new generation of leaders who can live and work successfully in two worlds: their community and the global arena.
The project is a collaboration between Tribal Link Foundation; Brighter Green
, a New York-based Think Tank; and 3 indigenous NGOs: the Parakuito Pastoralists Indigenous Community Development Organization
(PAICODEO) in Tanzania; and the Simba Maasai Outreach Organization
(SIMOO) and the Indigenous Information Network
(IIN), both based in Kenya. The 5 organizations have worked together to develop the initiative, with Tribal Link and Brighter Green providing linkages to international networks, communications, support, research, and documentation, and outreach to other NGOs with expertise in the area of girls’ education, human rights, and leadership development.