Collaborating Across Borders to Support Girls’ Education and Health

Yvonne (in white) with her Sanatio colleague and students

Yvonne Peters Asamoning and Bosede Ogidan met in Dubai last March, during the Global Education and Skills Forum, where they discovered that they were working on similar projects to build girls’ self-esteem, support their health, and engage them in their learning. Yvonne, who is from Ghana, and Bosede, from Nigeria, realized that many of the challenges facing girls in their respective countries and communities were very similar, including poverty, low expectations, and a lack of education about women’s health, puberty, and menstruation. A new friendship was formed and a cross-border collaboration to expand their work was born.

Back in university, Yvonne, a Teach For Ghana alumna and the Girls’ Education Officer at Create Change, co-founded Sanatio (Latin for “healing”), an initiative to raise awareness of the sexual abuse of girls and support girls who, like her, were victims of abuse. Bosede, a second-year Teach For Nigeria Fellow, co-founded the Girl-child Initiative as part of the Child Support Initiative, which is led by another Teach For Nigeria Fellow, Dinyambe Twanoh Nyatua. When one of Dinyambe’s students came to class unaware that she was menstruating, he reached out to Bosede, who was inspired to start a program specifically for girls. After meeting in Dubai and learning about the similarities in the work they’re doing to support girls in their countries, Yvonne and Bosede decided to collaborate to learn from each other’s experiences and increase their organizations’ impact.

Bosede presenting a Girl-child Initiative workshop

The pair is developing several projects together, beginning with a sanitary pad sustainability plan. In the communities where both women work, menstruation, exacerbated by limited access to sanitary products, is an issue that keeps girls from attending school several days each month. Because regularly buying and distributing sanitary pads to female students is expensive and logistically challenging, Yvonne and Bosede are pursuing an alternative. Currently, Bosede and her team are planning a trip to Ghana, where they’ll join Yvonne for a workshop in which a local NGO will teach them how to make reusable sanitary pads—a skill they plan to pass on to the girls they work with.

While in Ghana, Bosede and her colleagues from Nigeria will support Yvonne in expanding the scope of her work to helping both girls and boys understand the human body and reproduction, so they have the tools to grow into responsible adults. Bosede and Child Support Initiative staff members plan to hold workshops for boys and girls on these subjects as well as related topics, such as developing self-confidence. “Boys also have issues with hygiene, sexual abuse, and puberty,” Bosede explains. “According to UNESCO, one out of every 10 boys is being abused, and we want to educate them in order to address these issues.”

Yvonne is excited about the co-ed workshops, given that Sanatio has primarily focused on girls. Recently, a former male student who suffered from mental health challenges, and ultimately left school, called Yvonne to tell her he is now continuing his studies and to thank her for supporting him. The experience “taught me that as much as I am giving my energy to girls, I need to also look at the fact that there are some boys who need my help,” Yvonne says. “As a teacher, as a support system, and someone they can fall back on.”

Yvonne and Bosede are currently planning for their collaborations in Ghana, and raising funds for the visit, which is tentatively scheduled for July. We look forward to sharing their reflections from the workshops and the cross-border exchange in a future update. Until then, learn more about Teach For All’s Girls’ Education Initiative.

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