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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More