Celebrating International Day of the Girl Child
For both of us, and indeed all of us working on the ConnectEd Program, the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th is important.
Anna & Rena
It is especially apt that, this year, the Day’s theme is “Innovating for Girls’ Education.” We are doing just that under ConnectEd. Implemented by World Education and partners in five countries around the world through funding from the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation, this global program is working with Alcatel-Lucent staff in each country to help girls to access and complete their education.
In many of the places where we work, girls continue to be deprived of their right to education. Poverty, social norms, physical distance, poor health, safety concerns, and limited school facilities stand in their way. This is true for Shweta, from one of the slum communities in Delhi, India, who left school to help cook, clean, and care for her younger siblings when her mother was no longer able to run the household. Luckily for Shweta, ConnectEd’s local partner made multiple home visits and convinced her family that three hours of studying per day would not interfere with housework. Now, Shweta is empowered by the access she has gained to technology and hopes to become a doctor.
Further, ConnectEd is trialing some new and exciting ways to help girls access education. Technology has been instrumental in our success here. Teachers with ConnectEd India are now taking their laptops or tablets into girls’ homes to provide individual lessons to girls whose families and communities do not allow them to go out to study. Through these visits,ConnectEd staff have been able to bring to the girls’ doorstep exposure to fun, learning and a world of possibility. A number of the girls reached this way have now been allowed by their parents to leave their homes and join classes. This is an enormous achievement, literally opening up these girls’ worlds as they and their families begin to acknowledge the value in an education.
Globally, girls and women still have far less access to mobiles, computer and the Internet than boys and men. Across all the countries where we work we ensure that girls in ConnectEd are learning to use technology, and benefitting from the world of opportunity that comes with being digitally literate.
Right from the start of ConnectEd in 2011, one of the things that has excited both of us the most has been the potential for Alcatel-Lucent employees, especially women, to have a really big role in bringing changes to the lives of thousands of young girls. Through corporate-social partnerships such as ours, girls can benefit from the mentorship of positive female role models, and the accompanying personalized support, guidance and encouragement. We have seen this spring up across ConnectEd in Australia, Brazil, China, India and Indonesia, with girls learning about careers and tips for interviews, getting inspired by personal stories or improving their grades through some extra academic coaching.
The International Day of the Girl Child is all about the 10,000 girls who have already been reached by the ConnectEd program, and it’s about the millions of girls just like them.
With the Shweta’s of our world in mind, October 11th has become an important day in our annual calendar since its UN designation as International Day of the Girl Child. We hope it becomes an important day in yours too.
And… please join us: You can get involved by joining ConnectEd youth, staff, and Alcatel-Lucent employees in a campaign to share why the International Day of the Girl is important to you. It’s as easy as snapping a photo!