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UNGA week inspiration

Two Togolese girls talk education and empowerment

Gloria Diamond Policy Advocacy and Gender Adviser, UNGEI
  • 24 Sep 2018
  • 6 min

A message to all women and girls fighting for gender equality:

“We congratulate all women and girls for the progress they are fighting for in their communities, despite the difficulties that they endure and we encourage them to never give up, to work hard, to develop their communities. We know that it is not easy, but we encourage them very very strongly. We want them to know that they can contribute to the development of their countries, that they are all incredible, and that they must keep going.”

Adeline and Sonia at the Pathways Togo centre in their hometown, Atakpame. (Photo: Gloria Diamond | Pathways Togo)
Adeline and Sonia at the Pathways Togo centre in their hometown, Atakpame. (Photo: Gloria Diamond | Pathways Togo)

The 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) opened on 18th September 2018. UNGA week includes 284 different events, covering themes such as health, education, women’s empowerment, economic development and youth leadership. In light of this, it is important to remember the young women who are directly impacted by these high-level discussions between governments, UN agencies and global development organisations.

Adeline and Sonia are two students from Togo, West Africa. They have been supported to complete their education by Pathways Togo, a small organisation supporting girls to go to school under the vision ‘Educating Women, Empowering the World’. These two courageous young women add their voices to the important discussions for girls’ education happening in New York over the coming weeks:

 

The power of education for girls’ futures

In the future, Adeline hopes to see more girls and women in leadership positions. (Photo: Gloria Diamond/Pathways Togo)
In the future, Adeline hopes to see more girls and women in leadership positions. (Photo: Gloria Diamond/Pathways Togo)

Adeline: “Aside from girls being sent off to get married, we can also say that girls are sometimes sent off to the towns to go and do housework, to work for others in order to earn money for their family. Me, after my studies, I want to become a chemist or an IT engineer… that’s what I wish the most. For the situation of girls in Togo, I think that it would be better if girls integrated themselves into civil services…Especially teachers, we see that there are more men than women.”

Sonia: “After my studies, I intend to become an agronomist, because I want to use the assets of my country to develop it. In Togo, the land is rich, and much of the population are cultivating it, so I want to help people develop ways of better exploiting our earth, as well as how to develop our environment”

 

Why is girls’ education so important?

Sonia understands first-hand the value of education, especially for Togolese girls. She hopes to be a role model for other girls fighting against social and gender norms in their communities. (Photo: Gloria Diamond/Pathways Togo
Sonia understands first-hand the value of education, especially for Togolese girls. She hopes to be a role model for other girls fighting against social and gender norms in their communities. (Photo: Gloria Diamond/Pathways Togo

Sonia: “We can say that to educate women, or rather to educate our women is to contribute to the development of our communities. An educated woman has rights, she knows her rights. She can also plan her family, the number of children that she wants, the ages at which she has her children, and more generally this leads to a decrease in the mortality rate for the country in general. Educated women are more likely to educate their children. Then, the illiteracy rate will also decrease. Less children means better education for the children they have, so the development of the community is assured and the development of the country, bit by bit, advances. To put it simply, educating women serves to reduce mortality and illiteracy rates. We will have an intellectual world, of women ready to fight for the development of their nation.”

Adeline: “Girls’ education is so important because a girl who is educated contributes to the development of her community and of her country. As the saying goes, to educate a girl is to educate an entire nation.”

 

Why we must never give up

Adeline: “An educated woman is determined, filled with authority, she can easily become involved in politics to participate in the decision making of her nation.”

Sonia: “Being a woman is not easy, but as soon as we begin to develop our communities, these mentalities will change, and they will see that women are not just made for the household but for development. We have this spirit, like an instinct, to work, to initiate, and to succeed. So with education, supported by other organisations, we will have the capacity to galvanise our hard work and advance our objectives and goals, which we can achieve if we believe in ourselves”.