“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” —Malala Yousafzai
The Let Girls Learn program is a girls education initiative that is being championed by Michelle Obama, USAID, and the Peace Corps. It is community-led.
Worldwide, 62 million girls are not in school. Yet, when you educate a girl, it is not only her quality of life that is lifted up—but the quality of life of her family and her entire community. When you educate a girl, you change the world.
In our community, there have always been women and girls leading this fight. We feel proud that we get to fight alongside them. We are passionate about youth empowerment and girls’ empowerment—and that’s why we took this job! Our work at our Dar Chebab (Youth Center) allows us to work with the most amazing people and organizations. We get to assist the Women’s Literacy Association—a group teaching written Arabic to illiterate adult women—as they put on amazing workshops for anti sexual harassment, health & safety, and so much more. We get to teach English classes to brilliant girls and women whose opportunities are improved with their language abilities. We get to facilitate STEM programs targeting talented future scientists and doctors and engineers. We get to connect under-resourced students with opportunities they deserve. We get to be listening ears for girls who already know what their dreams are, who already have the guts & brains to achieve them, who just need a little encouragement to get there. We get to learn from all of these amazing people.
These people are not statistics or vague ghosts in a vague blog post about women’s rights. They are real. They are our colleagues, our neighbors, our students, our friends. They are impacting their (our) community in powerful ways. We want to introduce you to just some of these incredible Moroccan women… THIS is what happens when you educate a girl.
These are some of the names and faces that are at the heart of our work in Morocco. This is why we continue to advertise our free Dar Chebab classes to marginalized kids, why Robert’s STEM club has a focus on recruiting girls, and why I will be starting a Girl’s Club in November.
As of 2012 in Morocco, 47% of adult women were illiterate (31% for Moroccan men). These people are people just like Omayma and Amina and Asmaa and Sarah and Meryem—only without the same resources and opportunities. Our jobs as teachers are to facilitate those resources and opportunities. People in Moroccan communities all over the country are already addressing this issue. The number of beneficiaries of literacy programs increased from 286,000 in 2002-2003 to 656,000 in 2008-2009. And these numbers are increasingly getting brighter. Many Moroccans—working in education, policy, law, administration, and so on—are facing this head on. They know that a girl with a book begets powerful change. We know this too.
We believe strongly that our job is not to be a voice for those who do not have voices. As Arundhati Roy said, “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” Our job is to help build a platform for voices that are already strong.
“Let us pick up our books and pencils. They are our most powerful weapon.”