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Learning skills, Planning for success: celebrating Zambia’s girl graduates

Christabel is one of 46 young women in Zambia who definitely have reason to celebrate! She just graduated from trades training at a local vocational institute, marking her first step away from poverty and gender inequality and towards a brighter future.

Limited opportunity

In Zambia, 64% of the population lives on less than $1 a day and most are unable to meet basic food needs. Girls and women are especially limited in their access to basic education and vocational training and often have few opportunities to earn an income.

In Zambia, girls have higher dropout rates than their male counterparts, largely due to early marriage and pregnancy. In fact, 42% of Zambian girls are married before they are 18, and approximately 60% of these young brides (aged 15 to 19) are illiterate.

But Plan is helping to change all of that.

Degrees of change

Plan provided 46 female students with full scholarships to a local vocational trades and training institute, along with educational resources, like school essentials. Following the training, graduates were also given modest start-up funds for them to launch their business ideas.

“At Plan, we believe that education has a profound effect on girls’ ability to claim other rights and achieve economic independence,” says Plan Zambia’s Mercy Ngoma.

The 6-month program, which included courses in general agriculture, food production, and tailoring, was comprised of 75% practical training and 25% theory-based learning. This level of hands-on experience ensured that the girls have employable skills and dynamic business experience. The program also accommodated the unique needs of previous school drop-outs – helping them re-adjust to formal learning, and empowering them with skills for life.

By attending school for training in the trades – generally considered a male-dominated field – these 46 bright, brave, capable, young women are breaking down gender barriers and shattering stereotypes. Their achievement reveals how investing in girls can help them reach new heights of personal success, while also benefitting the entire community with improved education, economic security, and gender equality.

Meanwhile, Christabel, a proud and grateful institute graduate, says it’s important to “teach someone how to catch a fish,” which is exactly, she said, “what Plan and the training institute have done.”

Empower girls in the developing world
A girl receives her diploma.

After this graduate walks over to receive her diploma she’ll continue taking steps towards a brighter future."

Girls hold their degrees.These proud graduates know that their degrees are more than just pieces of paper: they’re powerful catalysts for change.
A graduate receives a sewing machine and kit.

Along with a diploma and small bursary, this graduate received a sewing machine and provisions to kick-start her career in tailoring!

Girls raise their diplomas high.

The students were thrilled to celebrate their accomplishments – and rightfully so!

The graduating class poses.

Congratulations to the 2014 graduating class who are now well on their way!

Now, through Gifts of Hope, you can open doors for even more girls, so that they have the opportunity to lift themselves – and their whole communities – out of poverty.