Group of girls learning electrical skills

How you help young women achieve independence

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate young women in our programmes achieving independence and being empowered by their education.

Through vocational training, achieving strong, relevant academic qualifications, and learning life skills like self- confidence, the young girls in our programmes are able to grow into strong young women equipped with the skills they need to live independent and free lives. None of this would be possible without the help of our supporters and friends.

From their first day in the Sisters of Mary programmes, to graduating and finding reliable work and making lasting careers, every girl in our programmes is given the best possible help to fulfil their potential and become an empowered, independent woman.

This month we spoke to Sister Theresa in Tanzania and Lety, from Chalco in Mexico, two women who represent the thousands of women in our programmes, those who make everything happen, and those who are benefiting from receiving a free, quality education.

Nun in a habit with a young girl in Tanzania playing basketball

Sister Theresa

When Sister Theresa first came to Tanzania, she was moved by the poverty. She had experienced poverty as a child in the Philippines and works with poor children in all our countries around the world but the level of poverty she witnessed in Tanzania was far more extreme than she had seen before. She spoke of her first experiences, welcoming the first  girls to the new schools programme in Kisarawe, Tanzania in 2018.

“You know, I was very touched because I was the one who received them and then I showed them their things. So, I showed them their clothes, their soap, their comb. I was telling them “Oh do you know this?”

And you know, they don’t even know what is bath soap. So, I really felt pity to those girls. Even those simple things in their normal lives, they are even deprived of that. And, you know when we showed them “Oh this will be your bed, your mattress.”

And you know their joy at seeing their own bed, their own things, their mattress. They went to their mattress and hugged their mattress, you know. So those things were my first memories of the girls”.

Sister Theresa on her experiences with girls in Tanzania
Girls standing holding textbooks in a school hallway in Mexico Sisters of Mary school

Graduating into a life of independence

Encouraging self-confidence in young girls in the Sisters of Mary programmes produces independent, self-reliant and courageous young women who go out into the world with an assurance of their value and worth.

Lety graduated from Chalco, Mexico and went on to study and to find a good job. She spoke to us about her experiences, the skills she learnt at school and what she sees as the most important thing for young women at the Sisters of Mary programmes.

“The thing that stands out to me as something for young women is independence. The power (of a woman) to look after herself without having to depend on others.”

For other young girls like Lety, who grow up without access to electricity or water services and whose families can’t afford to send them to school, education is the key to living a life free from poverty. Being able to find stable work, earn their own money and realise their dreams is vital for young women, and addresses gender inequality, giving young girls the same opportunities as their male peers.

How the Sisters of Mary programmes gave Lety independence