Did you know that one third of Zambian girls will drop out of school by age 13? Or that due to many factors including lack of sexual education, Zambian girls are more than twice as likely to contract HIV than boys? There are endless statistics to show why gender empowerment projects such as The Girl Impact are so necessary. The numbers are powerful, but none of them capture the importance of our cause quite like speaking to the girls themselves. We sat down to speak with Lydia Dube, one of our outstanding grade 5 students who has been in the Girl Impact program since the very beginning or, as she put it, ‘’way way back when I was in grade 4’’!
Here’s what she had to say about The Girl Impact:
Lydia, you’ve been in The Girl Impact program for nearly 2 years! Why do you choose to come to Girls Group every week?
When I don’t know something or when my school or community doesn’t teach me something, Girl Impact can teach us! Like when we need to learn about our periods you give us pads so that we can stay in school and have a better future!
What is your favorite thing that we do in Girl Impact?
I like when we learn about the future! We were asked what we want to be when we grow up and some of us said teachers, some said doctors, some said pilots. Girl Impact taught us the way we can become those things! One time we got to dress up as the thing we want to be and I got to pretend to be a bank manager and I liked that. It made me happy for the future!
What have you learned from Girl Impact?
I’ve learned self-esteem. Self-Esteem is the way you feel about yourself in your heart.
And how do you feel about yourself?
Comfortable! And I know that I am smart and also that I am precious!
We also learned to love each other and be kind to others. Most girls hit others and shout at others but us, we are nice to each other!
Why do you think it’s important for girls to be empowered?
Because when girls are teenagers they must study hard and finish school so that they can go to university and be what they want to be when they grow up. That way they can do the good things they are supposed to do. Some people tell girls that they can’t go to school, but I say no you should still go and be strong and empowered to finish school.
How has Girl Impact helped you?
Before I didn’t know how to speak English and now I know how to chat in English to others. We also have learned to protect ourselves from harmful things like pregnancy.
If you weren’t in the Girl Impact program, how do you think your life would be different?
I wouldn’t know how to read or speak English. I would get to grade 8 and 9 and still not know how to speak or what to do during my period. But I know those things now.
After our interview with Lydia wrapped up, she skipped off to play with the other girls, her tight-knit group of friends from Girl Impact. It’s amazing to see how this program has helped each of them blossom into strong and empowered young women, each with their own unique personalities and opinions that they show off with pride.
These girls are beating the statistics! They are healthy, they are still in school, and they are DETERMINED to create a bright future for themselves and their communities. But don’t just take it from us, come see for yourself!