The Power Within

Education is key to helping women discover the 'Power Within'

Education is key to helping women discover the ‘Power Within’

One reason I travelled to Zambia last month was to help an association seeking to provide a group of sex workers, who wish to exit their profession, with an alternate income option. We are linked with a local NGO that has successfully initiated about 20 women’s self-help groups in the Kitwe area. PLAEP works with the GROW concept (Grassroots building our wealth), which is supported by USAID. Prisca Kambole, director of PLAEP Kitwe, did a fantastic job of the three day workshop we sponsored to give the women some training both in personal and economic growth.

Maybe the one most important concept she taught was The Power Within. “This is the strength that arises from inside ourselves when we recognize the equal ability within to positively influence our own lives and our community,” she explained.  Most of these women became sex workers because they saw no other way to provide for themselves and their children. A good number of them were married or in relationships and the men died or left, leaving the women with children and no means to support them. Lack of education, lack of opportunities or the perception of such, lack of support and knowledge where to get it, all contributed to where they are today. None of the women liked what they were doing but they felt powerless to change. Prisca sought to bring out an awareness of the power each of them can find in themselves to make a difference in their circumstances.

Prisca asked me later what I thought might be a major cause of poverty among women. I was just reading “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, who wrote what I hear so often – education is the key to lowering poverty among women. It is through education that women become aware of the power that they can have. Education makes them aware of their rights, gives them job opportunities, and exposes them to other ways of thinking and being.

Education is important for all, but especially so for women and girls!

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