Empower Girls and Women

Empowering girls and women through increased access to education is one of the most impactful solutions to the climate crisis and global poverty


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 helps to break the poverty cycle, because educated girls grow up to be educated women. This paves the way for their salaries to rise, for forced early marriages to be reduced, for their health to improve, and for their countries’ economy to strengthen. 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.


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 JGI’s Girls’ Empowerment Project, we’re working with girls and women to end period poverty and help them stay in school. They learn to create their own reusable sanitary pads from locally-sourced materials and are equipped with knowledge about their own sexual and reproductive health. Then, training in peer-to-peer education enables them to share their new skills with their friends, family, and community, bringing us closer to ending period poverty. 


Universal education combined with family planning could reduce a huge 85.4 gigatons in carbon dioxide before 2050
Secondary schooling doubles female income; primary alone increases up to 20%
Increasing a woman’s income by US$10, improves child health and nutrition the same as increasing a man’s by US$110
For every year of schooling a girl receives, her country’s climate crisis resilience increases 3.2%
Empowered women utilise resources more sustainably for more productive agriculture, cleaner air, and safer water

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 subsistence 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 increasing access to education for girls that live near these chimp habitats, we start effecting systemic change. Helping girls stay in school contributes to reducing local poverty over 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. 

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