World Education champions the empowerment of women and girls around the world. For 65 years, girls and women in the poorest and most vulnerable communities in more than 50 countries have been learning and excelling through World Education’s basic education, health, and economic development programs.

When girls and women are empowered through education, they have the knowledge and skills to advocate for themselves and their communities, accomplish their goals, and live healthier and more fulfilled lives.

Here are 10 examples of how World Education and its Bantwana Initiative empower girls and women through education in communities worldwide.

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Girls in a classroom in Mozambique. Photo: Penelope Riseborough

  1. Make schools safe for girls

Around the world, 246 million girls and boys experience school-related violence every year. In Mozambique, World Education’s Bantwana Initiative has established school and community-based empowerment clubs that provide girls with education about HIV prevention, reproductive health, leadership, life skills, and how to report abuse. The clubs enable girls to feel safe in their learning environments and encourage school attendance.

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A community-based parasocial worker makes a household visit in Tanzania. Photo: Rebecca Sliwoski

  1. Stand against intimate partner violence (IPV)

In Tanzania, intimate partner violence (IPV) affects 44% of married women. The World Education Bantwana Initiative Utu Jinsia program (“Dignity and Gender” in Swahili) will ensure that survivors of intimate partner violence get the support they need and deserve. The program aims to decrease the frequency of intimate partner violence, encourage women to take a stand against IPV, and positively shift harmful social norms that perpetrate IPV.

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Vana Bantwana beneficiaries participate in a GBV Mentorship Walk in Zimbabwe. Photo: Joshua Kumunda

  1. Mobilize communities to support victims of gender-based violence

Survivors of GBV need the support of their communities. In Zimbabwe, World Education’s Bantwana Initiative implemented a case management program to encourage local point people to refer GBV cases to the appropriate services. More than 17,000 children and 21,237 adults now have access to legal and health services surrounding GBV, and more than 900 cases of GBV have been reported.

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Celebrating government ownership and the national school-based HIV-prevention education in secondary schools across Swaziland.

  1. Strengthen legislation and policy to support women and girls

In Swaziland, women under 24 years of age are three times more likely to contract HIV than men. Until recently, there was no formal education for HIV prevention for the world’s highest HIV prevalence population.

The Bantwana Initiative worked with Swaziland’s Ministry of Education and Training and UNICEF to bring HIV prevention education to all secondary school classrooms in the country, and ultimately reach 80,000 young women and girls each year.

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Girls perform at a school supported by World Education’s IBEC project. Photo: Dana Inglehart

  1. Provide platforms for women and girls’ voices to be heard

Women and girls must have the ability to speak up about their rights in order to live safe and healthy lives. However, many girls do not feel comfortable expressing their concerns within their communities.

In Cambodia, World Education is empowering girls through education and leadership opportunities to advocate for their rights and address issues facing their communities. For Chhoun, returning to school through a World Education program gave her the training and confidence she needed to speak out against intimate partner violence in her village.

  1. Help girls improve their self-esteem

A girl who survives violence is at risk of diminished self-esteem, which can have serious consequences on her well-being. Bantwana Initiative partner, Girls Legacy, introduced Zvipo, a cartoon adolescent girl who speaks with other girls about sensitive topics in a series of videos broadcasted on TV, online, and through WhatsApp. Zvipo reassures girls to be confident, and tells them that they are valuable, smart, and important within their communities.

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A mother with her child at a health center in Mozambique. Photo: Arturo Sanabria

  1. Reduce the vulnerability of adolescent girls and young women to HIV

Though there has been progress in global HIV response, as many as 7,000 new infections among females ages 15-24 occur each week in Eastern and Southern Africa. 

In Mozambique, the DREAMS program works to reduce incidence among adolescent girls and young women by 40% in Mozambique. The initiative also improves access to health services and increases community mobilization to prevent HIV among adolescent girls and young women.

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A crowd gathered at performance for the ‘Stop the Bus’ campaign in Zimbabwe. Photo: Joshua Kumunda

  1. Link survivors of physical and sexual abuse to health services

In Zimbabwe, 27% of women and girls have been forced into sexual intercourse, yet only one in four of those women and girls will seek the care and support they need. Reasons that women do not seek help include a lack of awareness of available services and stigma surrounding sexual violence. 

Bantwana Initiative’s innovative “Stop the Bus Campaign” provides on-the-spot links to medical, legal, and counseling services for sexual abuse survivors. The “Stop the Bus” campaign raises awareness in communities and brings much needed services for GBV survivors to their communities, eliminating the prohibitive transportation costs of accessing services in urban areas. Over the course of the program, “Stop the Bus” has helped more than 5,960 women and girls gain access to services. 

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Girls in Swaziland receive health education and medical counseling in school, and Bantwana also provides alternative pathways for those who drop out of school. Photo: Robin Hammond

  1. Give adolescent wives and young mothers alternative education platforms

In Swaziland, 22% of girls give birth before the age of 18, and 29% self-report dropping out of school because of pregnancy. Only 13% of young people will complete secondary school, and only 47% of girls even make it to upper secondary school. There are almost no educational opportunities for girls who are young mothers and wives.

The DREAMS program in Swaziland works to change this by creating unique learning experiences for at-risk girls, adolescent wives, and young mothers who cannot make it to school.  Through DREAMS, the Bantwana Initiative implements accelerated ‘catch up’ classes for at-risk young women who have fallen out of the formal education system to ensure they continue learning and encourage them to re-matriculate.

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This young woman in Zimbabwe receives work readiness training, livelihood opportunities, and mentorship and participates in an internal saving and lending group to promote economic resilience. Photo: World Education

  1. Empower women with economic resources and education

Women and girls who have access to education and possess the skills to be economically independent are empowered to live healthy, productive lives.

The DREAMS program in Zimbabwe aims to build economic resilience and expand education and economic opportunity to 3,000 young women. The program provides resources such as entrepreneurship mentoring, life and employment skills development, vocational skills training, financial literacy, sexual and reproductive health education, and protection services from GBV.

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