Women and girls are key to a bright future for Africa, but education is critical to that potential. In the face of poverty and traditional cultural practices, most rural East African girls face the inevitability of a curtailed education. Though the enrollment rate of Kenyan and Tanzanian girls in primary school equals that of boys, they are far less likely to advance to secondary school.


Many girls also lack knowledge critical to protecting and managing their reproductive health, which too often results in disease, early pregnancy and increased risk of poor maternal and child health outcomes . These factors, coupled with a lack of fundamental skills to build economic security, lock girls in a cycle of dependency and poverty. Our Girls’ Advancement Program is changing this dynamic by eliminating the barriers that keep girls from advancing  in school, and giving them the tools they need to become confident, self-sufficient women.

Girl’s Advancement (Wezesha Vijana) Program

We developed the Wezesha Vijana program as a comprehensive curriculum delivered in a school-based “safe space” to support and empower girls to be successful in school and life. The mentors participating in the program pilot chose the name Wezesha Vijana, which is Swahili for “Empower Ourselves”. Wezesha Vijana uniquely targets girls through tailored workshops that educate, empower and elevate their attendance and retention in school. These intended impacts are organized into three areas of a solution; Health Assets, Financial Assets and Social Assets.

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Impact and Results

Since the program began 3 years ago, over 4,200 girls and teachers have been directly involved, and shared their knowledge with over 21,000 people in their families and communities. Evaluation results from this program indicate that girls feel more in charge and equipped to make important decisions affecting their futures. Impact highlights include the following:
• 75% of participating girls created long term financial goals
• 75% of participating adolescent girls report increased confidence and savings
• 80% of participating girls report more self-esteem
• 60% of girls have confidence to refuse unwanted sexual advances
• 70% of participating girls feel supported by, and in return, support other girls
Building these competencies is not just important to girls, their rights and their communities; it is essential to East Africa’s social development and economic competitiveness.

Resources and Downloads

Wezesha Vijana has been recognized as a promising practice by the UN Girls’ Education Initiative and featured in Booklet 9 of UNESCO’s Good Policy and Practice in Health Education series: Puberty, Education, & Menstrual Hygiene Management.
Click the image to Download the 2014 Impact Report for Wezesha Vijana in Kenya.

This video for Asante Africa Foundation highlights their work and the transformative power of education in East Africa. It was sponsored by the 2013 Getty Images Creative Grant Award, a $20,000 grant that funds a creative campaign for a nonprofit. Heward Jue and Elley Ho's proposal for this project was one of two winners from a pool of 85 applicants from over 20 different countries. Written, Directed, and Photographed by Heward Jue and Elley Ho. Edited by Bob Spector. Visual Effects by Spencer Seibert.