"I use literature to raise other students’ awareness on gender equality", says Meron Shegene, as she folds up a piece of paper with poems she wrote on the role of women in society.
Meron, aged 17, is a student at Chagni Secondary School in Ethiopia. During school breaks, she reads works of literature to her peers via the mini-media club to foster understanding about gender equality at school and in society. Eden Muket, also aged 17, has been involved in the club with her friend.
Both Meron and Eden took part in a life skills training as part of a project in Ethiopia, which provides girls with the tools to succeed in their studies and in their life goals.
The training empowered girls to do better in school and be more involved in school club activities. Meron and Eden decided to take on an active role in raising awareness on gender equality among their peers, through the mini-media club at their school.
"Before the training, I used to just go to school with no goal in mind. Now I have become intentional about my life goals", says Eden. She focuses on her studies to achieve higher grades. Eden has become a top student in her class of 30. "I have no doubt that a girl can succeed in everything", she says.
Leading the mini-media club, Gizachew Mebrate is a mathematics teacher at Meron and Eden’s school. He participated in the Gender-Responsive Pedagogy (GRP) training organized as part of the project. The training provide insight on incorporating GRP in teaching curriculum and strengthening girls’ engagement through school clubs.
Gizachew learned the importance of involving adolescent girls and boys equally in the classroom and club activities. He encouraged Meron and Eden to join the mini-media club and to write their own messages about gender equality.
Chagni Secondary School is one of the participating schools under the project and it is showing promising results. More girls actively use libraries and participate in laboratory-based classes following the training.
Girls’ engagement in school clubs have also had a beneficial effect on their confidence and academic achievement. The number of adolescent girls sitting their secondary education national examination at the school doubled within a year. Among them, 50% of adolescent girls passed their upper secondary level national examination in the 2017-18 academic year compared to 40% the year before.
Both Meron and Eden aspire to become journalists when they grow up. By becoming a journalist, Meron aims to make a greater impact in her country by addressing issues related to gender discrimination in Ethiopia. "Our country can develop only through the contribution of both women and men", she says.
The UNESCO-HNA Funds-In-Trust project in Ethiopia aims to enhance the quality and relevance of education for adolescent girls, and ensure that all girls have access to and transition through the full education cycle successfully, so that they can lead better lives.
The project is implemented by the UNESCO Liaison Office in Ethiopia, under the UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education. The UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) is providing technical backstopping in institutional capacity-building for gender mainstreaming in education, GRP and teacher training.