When you educate a girl, she can change her world. That’s the vision that drives Melbourne-based charity One Girl.
Their mission is all about empowering girls through education; and while their goal of educating one million girls across Africa may seem ambitious (and impressive), it’s only a fraction of the estimated 62 million girls around the world who are denied an education every year.
They work in Sierra Leone and Uganda, which are considered some of the worst places in the world to be born a girl. In Sierra Leone, for example, a girl is more likely to be sexually assaulted than she is to go to high school.
Morris Family Foundation has been supporting One Girl since 2013. Over that time, the foundation has put its support behind a range of different programs which have made a significant difference in the lives of girls, their families, and their communities through the power of education.
But when COVID-19 struck in 2020, One Girl was forced to rethink everything. Nationwide lockdowns and school closures in Sierra Leone meant many of the existing educational programs were unable to continue. So Once Girl’s passionate team went back to the drawing board.
The result was Girl Tok: an innovative and adaptive program that was designed to help keep girls feeling supported, safe and healthy during the pandemic.
Using digital tools and platforms such as mobile phones and WhatsApp, the program helped girls to stay engaged in their education and connected with their peers whilst they weren’t able to physically attend school, as well as preparing them to re-enrol in school once lockdowns were over. The aim was to keep them focused on their studies and their goals for the future.
Trained mentors guided the girls through a series of lessons and activities on topics such as digital literacy, activism, leadership, wellness, body autonomy, and consent.
With schools reopening in the country, Girl Tok is continuing on so it can provide digital lessons for the girls on topics that aren’t always taught in the classroom, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, and sexual and gender-based violence.
The program has been so successful that it’s now been introduced in Uganda, and there are talks about rolling it out in other parts of the world.