In central Mali, boys are often unaware of the toll that societal demands make on girls – like doing household chores and early marriage. Through USAID/Mali’s Girls’ Leadership and Empowerment through Education activity (USAID GLEE), a mentoring program that focused on life skills, girls are exposed to information that will help them balance those demands. While the program was originally designed to benefit only girls, the boys at the school expressed an interest in participating because according to them they were curious and believe it would help them to be better husbands one day.
After receiving life skills training, from their mentors, the boys realized how much they were unaware of the pressure on girls preventing them from attending school and the role they can play to help girls improve attendance at schools and their studies.
Through the role-playing we did with the mentor, I was able to see how I can help girls with their household tasks, like cleaning. USAID GLEE made us aware of this and I worked with a girl in my school (Yassema Natoumé) – we do our work together and when she doesn’t come to school, I go to her house to see why,” explains Bouram Traore, student.
Now with the help of male students, girls like Natoumé can focus on their studies and stay in school.
I’m always motivated and encouraged thanks to the support of my friend Bouram, and I can easily continue with my studies without obstacles,’’ >adds Natoumé.
In addition, there are many times when male students are unaware that societal norms, for example, early marriages, may impede the future of girls. To help address mentors from the USAID GLEE activity, also work with boys to make them understand the impact of early marriage on girls’ future and how it can prevent them from achieving their full education and their life potential.
Thanks to USAID GLEE, boys in our village now understand that more girls need to be at school and that girls often have more demands on them than we do that keep them from attending or excelling in their studies,” explains Bouram Traoré, student.
By educating boys as well as girls on how to be better students and how to help each other, particularly girls, improve attendance at school, they are building their communities and Mali. At the same time, boys are becoming more aware of how to contribute to gender equity and life lessons for the future.