Celebrating Local Leaders Fighting for Gender Equity

Samantha Williams, Global Director - Girls' Education, Teach For All
Nusrat Chowdhury and a fellow Teach For Bangladesh teacher are tackling gender inequity in Chattogram, Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, Nusrat Chowdhury and Shahjalal Numan were staring down alarming statistics about girls—some as young as Grade 5—dropping out of school. Recognizing how essential it was for more girls to persist through secondary school, they designed a project to increase girls’ understanding of gender inequity and girls’ and women’s rights. 

On the other side of the world, Charlie Pritchard-Brennan of the UK and Nayvi Pablo of Peru opted to create opportunities for girls to find and utilize their unique and powerful voices. Charlie chose to tackle this by running a debate course for 12-year-old girls; the girls have won two competitions so far. And Nayvi started a project called “Jipashkuna Power” (Girl Power) in his community, using theater to help girls express themselves by creating and performing original pieces. 

The stories of Nusrat, Shahjalal, Charlie, and Nayvi represent both the diversity and universality of the challenges facing girls around the world. Their efforts to address those challenges brought them (and over 180 other leaders) to Teach For All’s 2019 Global Girls’ Education Fellowship

Nayvi Bruno uses theater to help girls in Ancash, Peru express themselves by creating and performing original pieces.

Each year, Teach For All offers an intensive fellowship designed to provide teachers, alumni, and staff of network partners with the knowledge, tools, connections, and confidence to initiate change for girls in their communities. Over the course of six months, Global Girls’ Education Fellows will participate in a virtual learning course and join webinars with network and external experts, covering a range of topics related to girls’ education and leadership. Fellows can opt into designing and implementing a girl-focused project at the end of the fellowship.

The fellows hail from every corner of the globe—from Arizona to Ancash, Kampala to Kuala Lumpur. Around the world, they are teaching and working in schools and communities where girls face discrimination, gender bias, lack of access to opportunity, and other challenges that make it hard for them to reach their full potential. All of the fellows’ daily work increases gender equity by leveling the playing field and ensuring that all students learn and receive access to opportunities. But some are taking an even more deliberate approach by working explicitly with girls to support their growth and development. 

Sadia Afrin Binte Azad of Bangladesh, launched Leaping Boundaries to provide girls studying in madrasas (religious schools) with skills and access to platforms such as national debate tournaments and spelling competitions, among others. Seeking to integrate the girls into mainstream society, Leaping Boundaries has reached over 500 girls to date, and helped over 120 girls access unique platforms where female madrasa students typically lack access.

In Guayaquil, Ecuador, Callie Herring runs a STEM initiative for girls.

Hester Burn of London co-founded the Not Normal initiative to tackle bullying with student-led theater and role-play. In its first phase, Not Normal aimed to reduce sexual bullying in a secondary school by providing students with training on how to alter the outcomes of common bullying incidents. After attending the training, students reported feeling confident about intervening in bullying incidents and expressed an increased understanding of gender-based violence and gender stereotypes. 

Some have been at this for quite some time, like long-time advocate Christina Spicer. Working for the Girls Scouts of Arizona Cactus Pine Council, Christina has long sought to help girls create a sense of belonging, develop positive values and relationships, problem-solve and take risks. The Council raised over $1M towards building a leadership center for girls and women in South Phoenix. Others have launched more recent initiatives, like Callie Herring, who is piloting a Girls’ steM Club with a focus on math. Launched in Ecuador, the program empowers local teachers to change the experience of girls in their elementary school classrooms, and engage all of their students in learning that builds critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

We’re inspired by the work that these nearly 200 local leaders are doing to create a world free of gender-based barriers where all children can fulfill their potential. And we look forward to a future shaped by the thousands of girls and boys they will reach with their messages of gender equity and equal opportunity. 

Teach For All thanks Credit Suisse and Echidna Giving for their generous support of our Girls’ Education Initiative. 

Learn more about Teach For All's Global Girls' Education Fellowship.