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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid