New boats keep girls’ education afloat in Bangladesh

Hatibandha is a remote community in Bangladesh. Here, 90% of girls are married by the age of 18, but one of the best ways to prevent child marriage is to keep girls in school. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

The community is located in the Char region, where isolated farmland turns into tiny islands during the long rainy season. One of the biggest barriers to educating girls is the difficult and dangerous walk they must take through waist-high water to get to and from school every day.

Something’s gotta give

The trek to school through water is a long one, but it’s also unsafe. Girls were at risk of being harassed, causing parents to keep their daughters at home. Because of barriers like these, only 7% of secondary students in Hatibandha are girls. Finding a solution was a top priority for the community’s development, and for girls.

Thanks to Plan International Canada donors, Hatibandha recently celebrated the arrival of 5 brand new boats which will help nearly 500 students have a safe, dependable and dry journey to school every day.

The new boats will benefit all students, yet the impact for girls is much greater. Now that they can get to school safely, they’ll receive the education they have a right to. Keeping girls in the classroom will offer a brighter future and more opportunities discovered at school.

“Nobody can stop my education because I am going to school every day on the new boat,” said Shirina, 14.

More to come for everyone

Today, girls are attending school more regularly and arriving to school on time. The new boat service is giving girls a better shot at education, a proper childhood, and a better life. The new boats are just the start. Plan International is working with the entire community to change attitudes toward girls and women, and to help everyone understand the importance of gender equality. It’s also important to work with the girls of Hatibandha to understand how they’d like their community to change, too.

But that’s not all. The community enlisted the help of a local architect who has completed plans for a new girls’ dormitory at the secondary school. Construction is expected to start soon with the help of community volunteers and parents.

The facts of life

4 million child deaths have been prevented over the past 4 decades thanks to the global increase in women's education. And for every extra year a girl stays in school, her income increases by 10 to 20%, enabling her to break the cycle of poverty for herself, her family and her community.

The future looks bright for the girls of Hatibandha. And you can help!