What do children dream about when they grow up in slums? Girls and boys will most probably have the same dream of getting an education that will give them a better future. But more often than not, it is only boys who are able to achieve their goals.
Girls who grow up in poverty are some of the most disadvantaged in the world. They receive less food, are not listened to or respected and are usually the last in line for school places that could transform their lives. Too often, their dreams usually end with an unwanted pregnancy or an early marriage.
Epworth, a largely informal settlement 12 kilometres east of Harare, is Zimbabwe’s biggest slum settlement and home to thousands of poor families.
Plan International has been working in Epworth since 1993, supporting girls’ education, health and hygiene and child protection programmes.
Getting Girls to School
For girls in Epworth, accessing their fundamental right to education is tough. Most girls do not stay in school longer than 7th grade and many do not even start school so never have the opportunity to get an education and escape the slums.
I wash and care for my school uniform every night
Many girls do not know that children have the right to live a dignified life, a lesson learnt at school which is just as important as English and Mathematics.
Plan International is supporting 53 girls from slums, including Delphine (pictured above), with school scholarships, so that they can access their right to education
Delphine is a model student and never complains about the early mornings or the many lessons she attends each day. She knows that every school day brings her closer to a life beyond the slums. The way in which she cares for her school uniform shows how much she values the opportunity to go to school: "I wash and care for my school uniform every night."
Empowerment through Football
From our experience, we know that through the global appeal of football, we can involve and affect children who are particularly difficult to reach.
Encouraging girls to get involved in football can have a long term positive impact on their lives and wellbeing.
It can help them tackle discrimination, increase self-esteem, reduce the number of early and forced marriage and challenge stereotypes, all of which are significant factors in advancing gender equality.
Plan International is supporting a girls’ football programme in Epworth, giving the opportunity to girls, the slum’s most marginalised children, to prove that they can play football and are just as capable as boys.
Through working with girls in Epworth, we are giving some of the country’s most marginalised and disadvantaged children the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and seek a better and brighter future beyond the slum.