For #16DaysofActivism, we're shining a spotlight on inspiration youth activists worldwide. Meet Petra Chikasa - she's the founder of Girl Solidarity, a Zambian grassroots organisations aiming to fight child marriage and empower girls through education.
I believe that education is one of the most important tools in eradicating poverty and making sure girls can reach for the stars. Two of the biggest issues that girls face in Zambia are child marriage caused by poverty, and poor menstrual health management – both of these issues are inter-connected with girls’ access to education.
We at Girl Solidarity have a sponsorship program that makes sure girls whose parents can not afford to pay for them to stay in school are able to do so. We also carry out sanitation workshops teaching girls how to manage their menstrual health better, as well as how to make reusable sanitary towels.
A lot of my inspiration to start Girl Solidarity and get more involved with the community comes from the lessons I learnt from being a member of the Girls Brigade. I learnt that it’s my responsibility to make sure my sisters are educated, so that we can lift one another and thrive.
Some of the challenges we face in our work are difficulties in communicating in places where we do not understand the language, another major issue is that girls in rural areas have no role models, because nobody wants to go back once they leave.
Sometimes there isn't much willingness to participate from community members. A lot of people in these communities do not see anything wrong with child marriage or lack of education. Also, there’s a lack of support from Ministries when we don't have enough resources to reach communities in the remote parts of the country.
One way to help empower girls is informing community leaders on how education can transform their community. Once you help them understand that educating their daughters is more sustainable than marrying them off you begin to break the cycle of poverty.
"A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated, no chance!" - A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Read the rest of out #16Days series here.