Girls campaign for equality in education

Girls in Benin like Martine, Veronique, Raicha and Karimatou are taking control of their futures through education, raising awareness of girls’ rights and protecting themselves and their communities against child pregnancy, early marriage and discrimination, proving anything a boy can do a girl can do too.

Karimatou holds up the Impact-Elle project handbook.
Karimatou with the Impact-Elle project handbook.
Raicha playing football.
Raicha plays football as part of a girls soccer team in the Atacora region.

Girls and young women in Benin want to be treated with the same respect as boys, to continue their education and to flourish. Tradition, customs and poverty drive them out of school too early and propel them into traditional gender roles at a young age. But when given the opportunity to develop their potential, Beninese girls can make great strides.

At school, they are setting up school councils and raising awareness among their classmates about sexual harassment and its consequences on girls’ school drop-out rates. While on the football field they are developing their self-confidence and perfecting their soccer skills.

“What a boy can do, a girl can do too, right? We have the same rights and responsibilities. I want to graduate and become one of the best female football players in the world!” says Martine, 16, one of the programme participates in Atacora.

“What a boy can do, a girl can do too, right? I want to graduate and become one of the best female football players in the world!”

Martine, 16, a programme participant in Atacora

Ending discrimination at school

Logistical arrangements are made to encourage the enrolment of pupils with disabilities. School staff and parents are provided with inclusivity training so that children with disabilities and girls can go to school without the fear of discrimination.

Parents now have a better understanding of children’s rights to education, as well as the negative consequences of early pregnancy, forced marriage and exploitation.

“In school, we are not given any sex education until after high school. After I gave birth, everything was explained to me at the health centre… but it was too late. I tell other girls to plan their pregnancy and not be afraid to ask their partners to protect themselves,” says Edith, 18, mother to 2-year-old Valentine.

Véronique writing in her workbooks at her desk at school.
Véronique is one of the best students in her school.

Avoiding pregnancy and exploitation

Working together, young people are conducting awareness-raising and advocacy activities in their communities to persuade adults to respect their rights.

In Atacora, they are working to end teenage pregnancy through the ‘Zero pregnancies at school’ campaign and in Atlantique and Littoral, teams of social workers reintegrate children who have experienced exploitation. 

Awareness raising and protection networks encourage the reporting of abuse and young women have the opportunity to take part in vocational training and join savings and credit groups in order to become economically empowered.

In order to give children, girls and boys, the same opportunities to learn free from violence, Plan International works to ensure that every child receives a birth certificate, an official identity that allows them to enrol in school and receive legal protection.

Véronique on her way to school.
Véronique on her way to school.

The Impact-Elle project

The expertise acquired through Plan International’s Girl Power initiative in Benin, conducted from August 2015 to June 2017, inspired the Impact-Elle project. The programme supports girls to take control of their futures, through education and the knowledge they need to protect themselves against pregnancy and early marriage.

With the support of Plan International and its partners in the Atacora, Atlantic and Coastal regions, girls are overcoming the obstacles that prevent them from claiming their rights.

Campaigns, Education, Protection from violence, Sexual and reproductive health and rights, Youth empowerment, child marriage, girls’ leadership, Teenage pregnancy