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"Because I am a Girl": education eradicating poverty

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September 24, 2014

girlsEDUCATION - More than 120 million children around the world do not go to primary school. At least 250 million children cannot read or count, even if they have spent a couple of years in school. Most of them live in developing nations, and most of them are girls.

Receiving an education should be a basic right for every child because what he or she learns improves his or her opportunities in life.

Plan Italia, an organization that upholds the rights of children in the battle against poverty believes that without a good education, individuals will be less likely to get a job and look after their families in the future. With fewer people in work and more people in need of support, they will struggle to prosper, holding their own countries back and ultimately the global economy.

Tiziana Fattori is the President of Plan Italia. She told Linda Bordoni that her organization has a long history in upholding the rights of children and their right to education and she spoke about the ongoing campaign – “Because I am a Girl – which aims to provide a good education to 4 million girls in developing nations…

Listen to the interview: mp3 icon

Fattori speaks about Plan Italia’s fifty year history as the organization was originally established to help children who were victims of WW2: “we had more than 11,000 Italian children sponsored through Plan mostly by American and Canadian donors” receiving the support of famous Hollywood actors like Gary Cooper she said.

The programme was subsequently closed and the organization moved back to Italy with the aim of involving Italian donors and the Italian civil society in the global campaign “Because I am a Girl”.

Fattori points out that only 2/5 of all children in Sub-Saharan Africa reach the fourth year of elementary education. And she says it is even worse for girls as only 52% of them receive no formal education whatsoever.

“57 million children of primary school age do not go to school, and 65 million girls are out of primary and lower secondary school. So it is a big issue because we – at Plan Italia - are convinced if we want to fight and eradicate poverty around the world we really need to send girls to school” she said.

Fattori says that “Educating girls results in a reduced infant mortality; educated girls get married later, they pay more attention to their health and most of all, they increase their earnings by 10 or 20 %, so it is a big investment even for the economic situation of their own countries”.

She talks about the global campaign “Because I am a Girl” that aims to provide quality education to 4 million girls in developing countries.

Fattori says that one of the main reasons for girls dropping out of school when they reach puberty is the practice of child marriage – the most affected areas being in Africa.

“We need to find ways, through this campaign, to protect girls’ rights, to ensure that early marriage is banned and that girls have the same rights as boys” she said.

Fattori says “We need to work at an international level to make sure that there is awareness regarding this issue; at a national level ensuring that the countries in which we work there are laws protecting girls’ rights; and also at a local level – working with communities and with families”.

She also says that at Plan Italia “We are empowering children making sure they know their rights and teaching them how to claim and fight for them”.

For more information on the issue and on the work of Plan Italia and the “Because I am a Girl” campaign go to Plan Italia’s website.           

Source: Vatican Radio, September 18, 2014

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