In Kenya, women and girls face many barriers and challenges due to gender discrimination and cultural practices. Although it has been banned for over a decade, female genital mutilation (FGM) is still widely practiced in rural and tribal communities, like the Masaai. Additionally, child marriage through trading young girls in exchange for livestock is also a regular practice. Since wives are generally much younger than their husbands in the Masaai community, they are often widowed. In this culture, women do not have a right to own (or inherit) any property, and teenage widows with children are often left behind when a husband dies, leaving them with no home or means to survive. They are typically uneducated and unable to find work, leading to further poverty for themselves and their families.
Advocating for women’s rights is a crucial component of achieving education equity in Kenya, so that women and young girls are able to attend school safely without fear of being physically harmed or sold, and are able to be financially independent.
Our partner, Maji Moto and Maji Moto’s Enkiteng Lepa School, holistically addresses the challenges Masaai women face by providing a rescue center to protect girls from FGM, schooling for children and adults (with night classes to fit the schedules of children who take care of their families livestock), support for continuing education, and a widow’s village for women to live and support each other.
Guatemala faces many challenges in providing equitable and quality access to education. First, the geography of the country itself makes it difficult for many communities to access government schools and state services. The country is very mountainous causing many rural and indigenous communities to mostly live in isolation as schools are often hours away. This has lead to school material and teachers being unable to support the linguistic and cultural needs of rural and indigenous community members. In addition to the distance, the government schools are not free, forcing families to choose between food and housing or their children’s education.
Guatemala also has a turbulent history, which has lead to the rise of street crime and drug use in the country. Now, many parents are hesitant to allow their children to travel long distances in fear for their safety. Unfortunately, many youth drop out of school and join gangs as opportunities are very limited.
Our education partners in Guatemala provide education services in rural communities so children and youth do not have to travel hours to attend school. They also run initiatives to help youths find positive alternatives to gangs and to stop involving themselves in crime. You can learn more about the partners and their uplifting were by visiting their pages here:
Comunidad La Esperanza