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In rural East Africa, adolescent girls are routinely victims of discrimination and gender inequities and cultural norms often deprive these girls the opportunity to develop an active voice and become decision-makers in their society. Gender equality and women’s empowerment has been specifically targeted by the SDGs and research has shown that gender equality translates into poverty reduction and economic development. Over the past 4 years, Asante Africa Foundation has introduced youth led after school programming as an extension of our Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator program. The overall goals are to create safe learning spaces by supporting the initiation of secondary school girl-led clubs with modularized and flexible training content and skill building tools focused on leadership, self-sufficiency, job readiness and entrepreneurial skills in addition to enhancing academic performance..
This paper will describe the pros and cons experienced, evaluated and documented for Girl Only Programming as compared to Girl Led but mixed-gender programming. Specific areas of evidence are focused on the application of critical thinking skills applied to classroom learning, self-governance, development of female leaders and male alliances, translation of “soft skills” programs to academic performance, and school stakeholder engagement.
The youth groups developed their own sustainability strategies and community reinvestment- “pay it forward” models to engage their school cohorts, the parents, and community members. They also created “fundraising programs to manage their own expenses by the second year of club management. These will be highlighted as well.