For the past 23 years, Mona Foundation has worked to alleviate global poverty through education, gender equality, and community transformation. We currently partner with 26 grassroots initiatives in 15 countries to educate and empower over 800,000 students in need, particularly women and girls. While it is widely accepted that investing $1 in education adds $10 in economic growth, in Mona’s experience, educating a girl multiplies this impact by 100. Educated women tend to marry at a later age, have fewer and healthier children, earn higher incomes, spend 90% on their families, and directly impact the development of their communities. All these factors help lift households out of poverty, benefit generations, and transform communities.

But to achieve a gender-just society, education needs to be transformed to teach the lessons of equality, ethics, and service alongside language, math, and science. Mona’s grassroots partners are leading this transformation. Across cultures and countries, their growing experience involves expanding the scope of their educational programs in surprisingly similar ways:

  • A school environment that is safe and nurturing in which girls are encouraged to explore their talents and aspirations.
  • Employing women teachers, mentors, and staff that serve as role models and daily reminders that becoming an educated, empowered woman is possible.
  • Integrating girls’ empowerment programs into the school curriculum.
  • Employing the arts to explore concepts of equality, its implications, and practical applications – engaging the heart as well as the mind.
  • Assisting boys to reframe their role as champions of equality and justice.
  • Engaging fathers and mothers to grow and develop alongside their daughters.

Empowerment programs are essential to helping girls see themselves as equal, autonomous persons worthy of respect, to discover their voice and aspirations, to gain confidence and actively participate in society. But to shift ingrained cultural patterns of inequality, their families must also be supported to recognize the importance of girls’ education and begin to integrate the principle of equality in their daily interactions. Girls don’t have to choose between their families and a life of their choosing. They can have both.

Read the full article about transforming education by Laura Baerwolf at Global Washington.