Ugandan women in rural communities are on the frontline of the climate and deforestation crises. Forest loss increases atmospheric carbon, degrades soil, reduces biodiversity, and intensifies drought. These women rely on forests to provide their families’ food, water, and firewood. Without forests, they are vulnerable.
Yet, empowered women are proven leaders in their communities.
Educating girls breaks the poverty cycle. Educated girls grow up to be educated women. Their salaries rise, forced early marriage is reduced, their health improves, and their countries’ economy strengthens. As opportunity increases, population growth decreases, reducing pressure on forests and the chimpanzees that inhabit them.
But female schooling is marginalised, particularly when girls hit puberty.
END PERIOD POVERTY, CREATE OPPORTUNITY
Over 80% of girls in Uganda skip school during their period each month. 30% drop out altogether.
Commerically-produced menstrual products are prohibitively expensive. Schools have inadequate facilities. Girls also fear being bullied. So girls go absent, negatively impacting their studies. This increases cultural pressures that force them to enter early marriage. Once married, they are expected to commence child-bearing quickly.
But there is a simple solution that allows girl to retain their agency and realise the futures they desire.
Through our Girls’ Empowerment Project, we’re working to end period poverty and help girls stay in school. Girls and young women learn to create their own reusable sanitary pads from locally-sourced materials and are equipped with knowledge about their own sexual and reproductive health. Training in peer-education enables them to share their new skills with their friends, family, and community, bringing us even closer to ending period poverty.
CLEVER GIRLS SAVE THE WORLD
How does this help chimps?
The forests in rural Uganda that chimps call home are rapidly disappearing. This is largely due to increased demand for land for farming, human settlement, industrial agriculture, mining, and the on-going Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan refugee crises. Desperate chimps raid farms and plantations for food, increasing human conflicts with fatal consequences on both sides.
Since 2008, we’ve worked with schools in targeted communities where large numbers of chimps live outside protected areas, leaving them particularly vulnerable to a range of threats.
By educating girls that live near these chimp habitats, we start building long term change. Helping girls stay in school contributes to reducing to local poverty in the long-term, subsequently reducing pressure on the surrounding forests.
By working for animals, people and the environment, we improve life for all.
“Unless we do something to alleviate poverty, there is no way we can save chimpanzees or the forests.”
– Dr. Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE. Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace.
You can make a difference
Help us inspire actions that connect people with animals and our shared environment.