News / Africa

Mali Women Push for Girls Education

Multimedia

Audio

Institutions like the United Nations and World Bank are increasing their attention on girls education, but in countries like the West African nation of Mali only about half of all girls are enrolled in school.   There are efforts by local people in rural Mali to make sure girls get an education.

Bintou Kassambara is 26 years old and lives in a town called Dioro, 150 kilometers from Mali's capital, Bamako.  She started primary school much later than other children.  She was 20 years old when she was in seventh grade and her family pulled her out of school.

Kassambara says her father engaged her to a cousin, an uneducated young man she did not love.  She says even if she did love him, she was not ready to get married, so she ran away.

Kassambara says she did not want to stop studying in order to get married.  She says she had passed a group of farmers looking at a notice.  Out of all 12 people there Kassambara was the only one who could read, so she told them what the notice said.

After that, Kassambara says she realized how practical and important it is to get an education.  She is not the only one in Dioro to learn that lesson.

The Benkadi Women's Association is working to get girls to attend school.  According to the United Nations, 56 percent of Malian girls are enrolled in primary school, but for boys in Mali the number is 70 percent.

Assan Diakite says the association often has to give the mothers money to send their daughters to school, because sometimes they don't even have enough to buy a notebook. Plus, they leave their daughters at home to help with house work.

The Benkadi Women's Association raises money by buying rice, onions and tomatoes when they are in season and the price is low.  The members dry and preserve the food until the crops go out of season and the price rises.  They sell the food at a profit at the local market.

Benkadi Women's Association member Mariam Coulibaly says you can see the difference between educated and uneducated families in town.  When you visit a family with an educated mother, everything is orderly and clean in the house, and there is food to eat.  But she says, in an uneducated household, everything is chaotic and dirty.  Belongings are everywhere and the children are wandering around like wild animals. Coulibaly says that is because they have not learned that poor hygiene can make you sick.  

It is late afternoon and a teacher at the Dioro Primary School gives a lesson on sanitation to a seventh-grade class.

The 50 children in the classroom sit in groups at wooden tables, following the teacher as he paces down the aisles.  They snap their fingers and even jump out of their seats when they know the answer.

But in this classroom in Dioro, there are plenty of girls.  The women's association's activities have paid off, according to the vice president of Benkadi and the principal of the primary school, Sitan Coulibaly.

She says there are more girls than boys enrolled in her school.  

Twelve years ago when the women's association started working, only five to seven percent of all the students at the school were girls, but today that number is 57 percent.

Across town from the school, Bintou Kassambara is up on her flat roof drying rice in the hot sun, moving her hands over the coarse grain.  Next Kassambara will cook the rice and take it to the village next door, where three times a week she walks up and down the lanes, selling it to hungry villagers.

Kassambara says she cannot continue studying anymore because she has a daughter, and she has to take care of her mother, who cannot work.  She also says her father was afraid if she kept studying she might not be faithful to her husband.

Kassambara continues with her chores, washing the pots and spoons with two buckets of water in her yard.  She still has a few hours before her six-year old daughter comes home from kindergarten.

Kassambara says she regrets not being able to go to secondary school.  She says her daughter will finish school before marriage.  She will not let her child make the same mistake. 

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs