Fimba is from Burkina Faso. He is representing the Guttmacher Institute's Protecting the Next Generation Project at the conference.
I participated in a very interesting session entitled "Leadership in Girls Education: An Essential Component of HIV Prevention". The panelists were Josée Verner from Canada and Jeanette Kagami from Rwanda. This session spoke about something that affects my daily life at home and for which I struggle with my colleagues from my youth network to do as much as we can to address the situation of girls in Burkina Faso.
It should be said that in Burkina Faso, very few girls go to school. Most of those who do have the chance to go, don't go beyond elementary school because their parents don't have the means to support their secondary education. For example, in one family if there is one son and one daughter (though in general we have big families), the parents would rather put the boy in school because it is he who is considered the future head of the family. And when the girl gets married, she goes to live with another family.
To improve girls' access to school, the government of Burkina Faso made elementary school education free for girls, but only elementary school. But the problem of access to secondary school remains, as it is too expensive for most families to afford. Also, with the youth network, I work a lot in informal education for girls though our youth clubs. We have organized a campaign called "One girl, one boy" to improve the level of girls' participation in club activities. This improves the development of female leadership.
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Before coming to the conference, I attended a training to launch a program for improving girls' education in partnership with UNICEF's bureau of education. This project's objective is to help parents to enroll and keep their daughters in school. Our youth network was chosen to accompany these girls through their education course. We plan to put in place coaching systems to provide networks for the girls and to advocate to parents to let their daughters have time at home to do their schoolwork. As primary school is free for girls, we emphasize secondary education by paying school fees and providing educational materials to those who can't afford them. This is an occasion for me to call on other colleagues who can contribute to work for girls' education so that we can account for more girls.