It is a fact not only for the African region, that for a variety of reasons, girls and women do not have the same access to education as the boys and men. Lack of education causes women not to realize their full potential, and hinders access to positions of leadership and responsibilities. Lack of active participation of women in society is detrimental not only to the women themselves but also to the society as a whole. Realization of women's rights are essential to development, and equal access to education is a key measure.
Exchanging staff to learn more about lobbying and advocacy
The project aims to build institutional capacity in the national Chapters of the Forum for African Women Educationalists, by exchanging professional staff between them, and thus learn from each other and take advantage of each others’ strengths. As FAWE is a lobbying and advocacy network, the skills in question are in the fields of media and communication, campaigning and lobbying.
Focusing on Sustainable Development Goals
The main targets of the lobbying work are the national educational systems. The network focuses on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.1 on free access to quality primary and secondary education for both girls and boys. In addition are especially SDG 4.3 and 4.5 relevant for gender equality.
The method of staff exchange also contributes under 4.7 on promotion of gender equality, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity. SDG 5.1 on ending discrimination and 5.5 about ensuring full participation of women are also especially relevant, as is SDG 17.9 on capacity building through global partnership and south-south cooperation.
Mutual exchange and sharing of knowledge
The key element in the project is the mutual exchange of professional staff. A total of 30 staff members have been exchanged between the FAWE network members, each staying for a year abroad with a sister organisation. The embedding of professionals in each others’ organisations has allowed for sharing knowledge and exchanging skills and ideas on operational level. It has also created trust and improved the functioning of the FAWE network as a whole.
Key deliverables so far in the project include mutual improvements and strengthening of the lobbying and advocacy tools, including newsletters, social media and communication, as well as resource mobilization. As regards possible impact on the national figures for women’s access to education in the various countries, figures are at this time not available.
The project has also engaged to support a new initiative dubbed Africa Girls Education Fund (AGEF). Funds were raised prior to and during the launch at the FAWE Girls Conference in Zambia. The AGEF initiative is current being spearheaded by FAWE Alumni who are spread across Africa.
The innovative aspect of the project is its completely horizontal design, whereby all parties are coming to the table both to learn and contribute skills and knowledge. Often in development cooperation, projects are designed based on transfer of technologies from a donor to a recipient country. But the recognition of the value of everybody’s knowledge creates greater ownership, participation and sustainability in the project.