School Girls Unite began in 2004 after a group of 12-year-olds and young African women discussed the prejudice experienced by millions of girls in many countries. One of the co-founders, Anika Manzoor, now age 27, is the executive director of the Youth Activism Project, the parent nonprofit organization of this international program!
We aim to fight this discrimination and advocate the powers of educating girls. We think education is the starting point to solving almost every other problem, including reducing diseases, ending poverty, creating equality, and building peace.
We chose to work with Mali because UNICEF identified it as one of the 25 countries with a very high percentage of girls not receiving an education. Over 300,000 girls there are not in school. 55% of girls in the country are married before the legal age of 16.
School Girls Unite is comprised of chapters in the United States and our incredible sister organization in Mali, called Les Filles Unies pour l’Education, runs our scholarship program.
Our Scholarship Program
School Girls Unite collects donations to cover the costs of sending 20 girls in Mali to school. Les Filles Unies pour l’Education manages this scholarship program, which includes paying tuition, school supplies, books, and tutors. We provide scholarships year after year and most of the students have to repeat the same grade sometimes two and three times, often because they miss school helping at home and fall behind.
Each year the number of students decreases because girls like Zé Diarra passed her 9th grade exam and now lives in Bamako with her relatives where she continues her education.
From a total of 75 scholarship students, 11 others have completed lower secondary school, 15 have moved from their village or dropped out, nine have been married and are no longer in school, and sadly, one 6th grader died.
Our commitment since 2004 seems to encourage the determination of the remaining 20 girls to learn whatever they can!
If you study, you come out of ignorance and one day become a doctor, minister, government official. Everyone must send their daughters to school. A girl can do a lot for her parents and herself.
Elisa Diarra, 9th grade scholar
Our Leadership Activities
School Girls Unite students and the young women leaders in Mali act as change agents by asking our leaders to make Education For All a top priority. We also advocate for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, specifically gender equality, universal basic education, child marriage prevention, and other human rights issues.
These young activists make speeches, plan events to raise public support, do radio interviews, and participate with the Global Campaign for Education, which includes meeting with celebrities like Shakira and decision makers such as the Mali Minister of Education and Members of Congress.
School Girls Unite was instrumental in mobilizing grassroots support for the U.N. International Day of the Girl Child, which falls on October 11. School Girls Unite members worked with other organizations to build this national campaign, which ran parallel to international efforts. This annual day recognizes the unique obstacles facing young girls around the world, as well as the power of young girls to make big changes locally and globally.
We have also led workshops for young girls in public speaking and advocacy, to teach others the skills we’ve learned along the way, so that anyone can be a leader.
I would like to applaud School Girls Unite because you all are bringing an innovative approach to girls education: you are encouraging girls who are better off to help those in need. You are not only fostering women’s leadership in Mali, you are also encouraging sisterhood by putting “UNITE” in practice.
~ Abdoulaye Diop, former Ambassador of Mali to the U.S.
High school and middle school students anywhere in the US can start a group that concentrates on gender equality and education as well as related human rights causes. With the backing of School Girls Unite, these youth-led teams gain knowledge about this global education crisis and decide on their own awareness-building, fundraising, and advocacy activities.
Most of these groups exist as school clubs, but that is by no means a requirement! We encourage interested youth (and adults!) to create their own School Girls Unite group, and register with us to receive advice, ideas, and a School Girls Unite Starter Pack!
I became co-president of my school’s club School Girls Unite, a group that sponsors the education of girls in Mali and lobbies Congress….I plan to continue my education so that I can fight for those who cannot!
– Julia Fine, whose essay was selected by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai in CNN contest
Got more questions? Contact us!
SCHOOL GIRLS UNITE, Youth Activism Project, Inc.
Non-profit 501(c)(3)Tax ID 75-3163810
100% of DONATIONS GO TO MALI GIRLS SCHOLARSHIPS
DONATE ONLINE via Network for Good
Washington, DC area address:
P.O.Box 422, Kensington, MD 20895 USA
Direct & Text: 301-785-1702