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FHI 360 project works with adolescent girls to build skills that address inequities

November 16, 2016

On October 18, 2016, the Empowering Adolescent Girls to Lead through Education (EAGLE) project celebrated International Day of the Girl Child with an event in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This project aims to equip adolescent girls with the educational, life and leadership skills they need to become change agents in their communities. To achieve this goal, FHI 360 is implementing a series of multidisciplinary activities that address education, health and gender-based violence, and that engage girls, boys, women and men in examining and altering traditional gender norms. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds this project.

panel discussion The theme of the event was “The Educated and Empowered Girl Is Tomorrow’s Female Leader: A Look at EAGLE’s Successes Through the Words of Its Beneficiaries.” More than 115 guests attended, including the Minister of Social Affairs, Adèle Degbalase Kanda, and representatives from USAID, multilateral agencies, national and international organizations, national and provincial government partners, school directors and students. 

The USAID Mission Director, Mr. Christophe Tocco, and the country’s Minister of Education, H.E. Mr. Maker Mwangu Famba, opened the event, both praising the project’s unique interventions to educate and empower girls. Next, 12 students performed a skit about girls’ leadership, which highlighted the obstacles girls face, including insults, harassment and discrimination from boys, as well as society’s tendency to normalize these acts and minimize their negative impact on the lives of girls and women. In another skit simulating a school assembly, girls’ strong denouncement of these acts resulted in a commitment from parents, the school director and boys themselves to treat girls and boys equally. 

Other presentations focused on the project’s successes: reducing illiteracy rates among nearly 1,500 underperforming students per year through a tutoring program, promoting gender equality through a mentoring program, and significantly reducing violence through multiple interventions. In a 20-minute video presentation, ministry partners, parents, school directors, teachers, community members and students shared testimonies of how the project benefitted, and often profoundly improved, their individual lives and that of the school communities. 

The highlight of the event was a panel discussion with three female students and one male student, who were well-spoken and confident as they discussed female leadership and gender equality. Their insightful and hopeful dialogue often prompted applause and laughter from the audience. The celebration ended with a visit of exposition stands that displayed the project’s technical materials and photos of beneficiaries.

Photo credit: Empowering Adolescent Girls to Lead through Education