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I was born and raised in Benin, West Africa in a very special family. I didn’t realize it but my parents were nonconformists. We were 10 siblings but my father made sure that each one of us attended school, even though there was just one paycheck in the household. Going against the pressure of the larger community, he insisted that his three girls should be educated. I started to earn money as a singer at an early age and didn’t understand why I should still go to school. I wanted to drop out but my father made it non-negotiable. He explained to me: “If you want to live in this house and sing, you have to be highly educated. This will allow you to understand the broader world and accomplish your dream of being a singer travelling around the planet”.
I remember being mad but now I am so grateful he had this vision. The education I got was quite of a high standard at the time because teachers were themselves highly educated; we use to call Benin the “Latin Quarter” of Africa. Things have unfortunately changed since then. My education has empowered me so much: it gave me the confidence not only to sing but also to speak on CNN or BBC and to meet world leaders to lobby on the behalf of the women of Africa.
When I started my role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2002, I first worked on the “Go Girl” campaign, which was promoting access to primary education for girls. A big push was made and a lot has been accomplished. But during a UNICEF visit to Tanzania, a mother explained to me that primary education was not enough. Why should the girls stop there? Attending secondary school makes a big difference because it prevents girls from early marriage at a crucial age and also can give them skills that will transform society. For instance, many health recommendations are not always understood by mothers due to their lack of education. More educated mothers would change all this, and it would impact not only mothers but also their families.
Be The Change
There’s no doubt that the world has made a lot of progress in the last several years, but for girls and women, there’s still work to do.Check out our great partners below who are doing important work on this issue.
progress has been made since 1990 in improving female literacy rates
of girls in least developed countries are enrolled in secondary school
of governments protect girls’ rights to secondary school
See who's making a difference
The Batonga Foundation exists to empower young women and girls in Africa through secondary school and higher education. We aim...
CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped...
As we look towards 2015 and beyond, UNICEF continues to take a more transformative approach to girls’ education by tackling...
#ONEderWoman of the Week: The Mrs.
This week we’re highlighting 5 #ONEderWomen: the women behind the band, The Mrs., an all-female rock band in their 30’s and 40’s from Austin, TX who travel around the country spreading their message of #ImEnough. The Mrs. aim to inspire a “female empowerment movement to change the often negative way women see themselves—and to convince women everywhere that they are, indeed, ENOUGH!” Through their music, the band seeks to connect women with songs about motherhood, careers, marriages, and various other life experiences. The women of The Mrs. are true #ONEderWomen because of their strength and their determination to inspire, motivate, and empower women around the world.
Help tell the stories of the girls and women all over the world doing amazing things. Be sure to include a link to their story in your nomination!
Nominate Your Own #ONEderWoman
Here at ONE we believe that there are a lot of amazing girls and women all over the globe who are doing incredible things to make our world a better place. Whether it’s empowering women in their local communities, or influencing change on an international level, there are some seriously rock-star girls and women out…
Jennifer is a writer at another jennifer and the creator of simple giving lab. Her passions are writing, philanthropy, her awesome kids and bacon, though not necessarily in that order. Her upcoming book, Simple Giving, will be available on 10/27/15. The wind was whipping fiercely when I woke up on Sunday morning. I checked my weather app and the…
At just nine years old, Ellie, a young knitting enthusiast, became the face of her very own nonprofit – KidKnits. Ellie was inspired by the hand-spun yarn she had received from Rwanda and wanted to find a way to buy more from these women yarn-makers and to share their product with others. Her entrepreneurial parents…
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