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Somaliland
Children from SOS Children's Village Somaliland
Tens of thousands of children grow up as orphans in Somaliland. Many of these grow up on the street, and are often preyed upon by human traffickers. Nearly all girls face female genital mutilation, leading to psychological harm and birth complications. SOS Children's Villages has helped in the capital Hargeisa since the 1990s. … more about our charity work in Somaliland

Still different for girls

In Africa, many girls have less than a 50% chance of going to school
In Africa, many girls have less than a 50% chance of going to school

How would it feel to be denied an education simply because you were a girl? In some parts of the world this is still the norm, despite the many benefits that educating girls brings to families, communities and wider society.

In most African countries, for instance, girls have less than a 50% chance of going to secondary school. Poor families often marry girls off young and the children of these teen brides are more likely to grow up illiterate. If, on the other hand, a girl finishes her secondary education, she will find it easier to earn an income, have a smaller, healthier family and improve her prospects – which is why we consistently encourage education for girls.

SamiaSamia’s story

Samia knows from bitter experience just how bad it feels when girls lose out. She was 11 when she was forced to drop out of school. Her father had fallen ill and money got tight. In keeping with the local custom, her fi ve brothers carried on at school while she had to stay at home to help run the house and look after her father.

In Somaliland, Samia’s plight is all too common. She began to avoid her friends:

“I used to come top in exams and my friends had called me the gifted girl. I didn’t want them to see me helpless at home. It really hurt and I was so lonely.”

A year later Samia’s father died and within a month her mother was diagnosed, like him, with HIV / AIDS. The family was stigmatised and fell on hard times. The turning point came when the family joined our scheme to prioritise education for girls as well as boys. Samia went back to school and received extra help. She has done really well and has set her sights on becoming a doctor.

“I feel a lot more hopeful – perhaps my country will at last become more enlightened about educating girls.”

An inconvenient truth

It takes more than teachers and books for a child to flourish at school. Without proper sanitation facilities, it is difficult for girls to manage their menstruation, so up to 20% of them avoid embarrassment by staying at home during their period. UK donors have generously funded separate toilets for girls at Damview Community School in SOS Children’s Village Chipata in Zambia, which has lead to a rise in attendance and less disruption to girls’ learning. In most African countries, for instance, girls have less than a 50% chance of going to secondary school. Poor families often marry girls off young and the children of these teen brides are more likely to grow up illiterate. If, on the other hand, a girl finishes her secondary education, she will find it easier to earn an income, have a smaller, healthier family and improve her prospects – which is why we consistently encourage education for girls.

Zenaye speaks up

After attending her local SOS school in Ethiopia, MBA graduate Zenaye has no doubt about the power of learning:
“I was very lucky. Thanks to SOS Children, I never felt disadvantaged as a girl. Education made me who I am today.”

Did you know that two our of every three illiterate people in the world are female? Learn more about this shocking statistic...

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