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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid