Investing in Girls: Paving the Way for a Gender-Equal Future

Today, the world marks the International Women’s Day under the theme Invest in women: Accelerate progress. This year we are called to Inspire Inclusion. When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world.

And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment. Imagine a gender-equal, inclusive world where difference is valued and celebrated. A world where we can collectively forge women’s equality starts by breaking the bias within ourselves, in our communities, workplaces, schools, and campuses.

As we come together to forge women’s equality, let us remember how far women have come in the struggle against gender inequality.

In 1908, women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. Two years later, Clara Zetkin founded International Women’s Day to celebrate how far women have come in society and raise awareness of continued inequality.

World-renowned feminist, journalist and activist, Gloria Steinem, reportedly once explained:
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

The theme resonates well with the national development agenda, Kenya Vision 2030’s Social Pillar which aspires to build a just and cohesive society that enjoys equitable social development in a clean and secure environment through investing in the people.

However, the shadows of inequality still loom large, casting barriers upon the path of girls and women. Despite strides toward progress, many find themselves shackled by societal norms, deprived of opportunities, their voices stifled by the weight of tradition.

But at Bridge International Academies, we refuse to accept this status quo. We believe that every girl, regardless of her background or circumstance, deserves a chance to shine. For in the corridors of our classrooms, we see the seeds of change, waiting to bloom into a garden of empowered leaders.

Our commitment to girls’ education goes beyond textbooks and lesson plans. It’s a promise to nurture dreams, to foster resilience, and to break down the barriers that stand in the way of progress. We know that when girls are given the tools to succeed, they become catalysts for transformation, lifting themselves and their communities out of the depths of poverty.

We have designed our teaching to empower and support girls to succeed in the classroom and fulfil their potential in life. We ensure equal representation and visibility of female characters in educational materials. By fostering an inclusive learning environment, we empower girls to envision themselves as leaders, innovators, and change-makers.

Through targeted teacher training and classroom practices, we promote equal participation and leadership development among girls. Our goal is to cultivate a generation of confident, empowered girls who are equipped to navigate and shape the world around them.

Beyond the classroom, we are dedicated to nurturing female talent within our organisation.
Over 60% of our teachers and school leaders are women. They serve as role models within the classroom and the community.

“Investing in girls is not just an economic imperative, it’s a moral imperative,” emphasises Rebecca Ochola, Director of Operations at Bridge International Academies, who rose through the ranks from a Customer Care Manager. “Bridge prioritises equality and fairness, providing opportunities for everyone to thrive.”

“Inclusive workplaces are the bedrock of empowerment,” shares Sharon Cheramboss, Director of Policy and Partnerships reflecting on her journey from male-dominated environments to Bridge. “When we value every individual’s contribution, regardless of gender, we create spaces where everyone can flourish.”

The woman is the heart of the family, and the family is the foundation of society. Sadly, in Africa today, many women and girls remain outside the reach of what should be their full economic and self-empowerment potential.

The COVID pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, climate disasters, and economic turmoil have pushed an extra 75 million people into severe poverty, since 2020. This could lead to more than 342 million women and girls living below the poverty line by 2030, making immediate action crucial.

International Women’s Day is an important opportunity to raise awareness about gender inequality and advocate for women’s rights. While progress has been made in recent years, there is still much work to be done to achieve true gender equality around the world.

By working together and supporting initiatives that promote women’s empowerment, we can create a brighter future for all. For International Women’s Day and beyond, let’s all fully #InspireInclusion. When women aren’t present, we must ask: “If not, why not?” When women are discriminated against, we must call out poor practice. When the treatment of women is not equitable, we must take action. And we must do this each time, every time.

#InvestInWomen #AccelerateProgress #InspireInclusion