In March, Dining for Women announced its $100,000 commitment to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in support of girls’ education and empowerment. This grant will be used by Peace Corps Volunteers in developing countries around the world to fund grassroots, community-led projects that address barriers to girls’ education and improve the quality of that education. There are four types of projects that are eligible for DFW funds: the first is GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camps and Clubs – a proven model for inspiring girls to change their world.
Peace Corps Volunteers organize and lead GLOW Camps and Clubs to promote gender equality and empower young women. Camps range from day-long sessions to week-long overnight programs. They create a safe and supportive environment for learning, cultural exchange, individuality, creativity, leadership development and fun. Peace Corps Volunteers work with community leaders to design GLOW camps that reflect the unique characteristics and diversity of the local area.
The GLOW Camp program encourages self-confidence, challenges campers to think beyond traditional gender roles, and addresses the unique societal and health issues girls and women face. Specialized curriculum and learning experiences culminate in a planning session for girls’ goals and future careers. As an extension of GLOW camps, GLOW Clubs incorporate lessons in self-esteem and leadership into reoccurring activities to sustain the development of adolescent girls over the long-term.
“I don’t know if the community recognizes the impact of girls’ education,” a Ghana Camp GLOW Volunteer said. “When you look at it from a societal view, if only one gender is really shining, then the whole community or the whole society will not succeed. In order for a nation to thrive, you need both genders to be powerful, and you need both of them to be able to think independently, to work together in unity. That’s why all of the great programs within Peace Corps that promote girls’ empowerment and girls’ education are so important. The GLOW Camp is a fantastic camp that brings girls together and gives them the self-esteem and self-motivation to say, ‘Yes, I can do this. Yes, I will keep doing this.’”
But the impact doesn’t stop once the campers head home. A crucial element to a successful GLOW camp is encouraging the girls to return to their towns and pass on their knowledge to their peers. The skills and ideas presented at the camp can be disseminated to a much larger number of young people if each girl makes an effort to share her experience. For example, since a GLOW camp held in July 2015 for girls from the Lake Alaotra region of Madagascar, several of the girls have done presentations in their communities and Volunteers are currently developing plans to begin a weekly youth club led by the GLOW participants. This practice of sustainable peer education is the most valuable aspect of a GLOW camp, and Volunteers hope to see the impact grow in the coming months as the girls relive the exciting experiences from their week of camp.
“Education is important because it can help us to be prosperous, so that we can become a developed country one day. I have learned a lot of things at the GLOW Camp, like how to prevent malaria and how to educate a Camp GLOW in the Volta region of Ghana. The GLOW Camp was here to educate girls, especially the girls, and to show how a girl can become a leader. If a girl furthers her education, she can become a leader in anything.” – Mariana, age 14, GLOW participant.
DFW’s partnership with the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Program will directly and indirectly impact more than 50,000 people in support of adolescent girls’ education. GLOW participants are an important part of spreading the message of education and empowerment to their peers in villages, communities, nations and around the world.