Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Help a girl become a leader

For a girl growing up in a rural village of Myanmar, there is little choice for her future. She will usually work on the family farm or migrate to find domestic or factory work. This often happens at a very young age, which means she won’t have the chance to finish school.

As Myanmar opens up to the world after 50 years of military rule, new opportunities are emerging, along with new risks. It is vital that girls are equipped with the knowledge, skills and power to navigate these challenges and make informed life decisions.

Among the issues faced by girls in Myanmar:

  • More than half of the country’s 8 million teenage girls are not in school, with many girls dropping out to work or marry at a young age.
  • High rates of gender-based violence and trafficking/exploitation of girls and women.
  • Insufficient access to reproductive and basic health services.

ChildFund is partnering with Girl Determined to give girls in Myanmar the education and support they need to overcome these challenges. A structured leadership and life-skills program has been developed that brings together adolescent girls from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds to increase their access to education, health knowledge, participation in decision-making and personal development.

The curriculum spans everything from communication skills, teamwork and goal-setting to self-esteem, healthy relationships and diversity. Gender norms are also challenged through participation in sports, commonly not available to girls and young women in Myanmar.

“This program will contribute to long-term change for adolescent girls by building and strengthening their values, skills and social networks,” says ChildFund Myanmar country director Win May Htway. “These attributes enable girls to make a safe and healthy transition into adulthood.

“Creating dedicated, safe spaces for girls to meet through structured weekly activities is a key strategy of the program, so that they have opportunities to consult with mentors, acquire skills and deal with personal issues,” Ms Htway adds.

ChildFund aims to raise $100,000 from the MentorMe campaign to help 400 girls in Myanmar access the two-year program, designed to equip them with the skills, confidence and support systems they need to make informed life choices and determine their own futures.

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