Gender equality and the empowerment of women is one of the pillars upon which the Hampton-Piggs Peak Partnership is built. In a country where cultural gender norms dictate that women and girls stay at home and provide the bulk of household-related work, we provide girls with an equal opportunity for education, paying school fees for at least as many females as males.
Swaziland has a deeply patriarchal society where women don’t have the same rights as men. Polygamy for men is accepted, discrimination against women is normalized, and sexual abuse of women is common. For many girls, the first experience with sexual intercourse is forced or coerced. Those are realities that we will not accept, so we are working to change it.
Whether it a 13 year old girl in school or an 80 year old gogo caring for her grandchildren, we help give females in Swaziland the opportunities that are otherwise denied them by a society that is geared toward male dominance. We pay school fees for girls partly because we know that an education provides females with dignity, self-respect, and the self confidence that allows them to say “no” to unwanted sex and the risk of contracting HIV.
Some letters serve as a reminder that Swaziland is a nation where girls and women are subjugated and frequently abused. School provides a haven for many girls - an escape from the high-risk environment in which they would otherwise exist. A letter from Shiba provides insight into the worries of a girl in Swaziland. She thanks her sponsor for her education and tells us about the alternative she was facing. “I was going to be a kitchen girl. It is so painful. People nowadays abuse people in so many ways.” Those three sentences speak volumes. Shiba is tactfully telling us that if she didn’t go to school, she would need to take a job where she would likely be abused.
It won’t happen overnight but empowering women by putting more girls through school is a giant step toward gender balance – a step that will provide a brighter, safer, and healthier future for the nation.
WHY EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT
Through your Starfish sponsorships, girls who would not otherwise have the opportunity are going to school. Our expectation is that these young women become educated. Our hope is that they become powerful. Our dream is that they change Swazi society.
Become a Starfish Sponsor!
For $30 a month, you can help break the cycle of poverty and provide a Swazi student with the opportunity to receive an education.