Peace Corps Senegal has a history of promoting female youth programs through its regional girls’ camps, held annually throughout the country, and the Mentoring Successful Scholars program. Recognizing that clubs provide a more sustainable approach, we are transitioning from just annual camps and scholarships to on-going youth clubs, which strive to continue this work of gender and youth empowerment with a more sustainable effort while promoting training, education and awareness in food security and agriculture. PCV Tara Blake and two Counterparts plan to host the local Girls Club with 15 participants. The target group are female youth ages 14-17. This project aims to create an environment where girls have agency and empowerment to develop knowledge of women's health and basic environmental education. The curriculum will focus on women's health and the environment as well as essay writing, and will be administered through in-class discussions, guest speakers, and field trips. The community recognizes that closing the gender gap in education will reduce the odds of early marriage and pregnancy while increasing female education rates in Senegal as well as focusing on two areas with potential for large community-level and country-wide impacts.
For the Girls Club, one Counterpart has been involved from conception during conversations early on and at each stage of program development. Once we decided on a girl’s club, they laid out an intensive club member selection process based on objective factors such as grades and subjective input from administrators and teachers, who provided key local knowledge and insight of each girl’s home and financial situation. The Director and his staff publicized the club, scheduled a kick-off party, and follow-up activities tentatively planned for the calendar year. Community involvement is inclusive of club members, so the girls will help in finalizing the draft session plans, selection of guest speakers, and club management.
Peace Corps Senegal has a history of administering girl’s camps. With the transition to clubs, this is an ongoing program will continue as part of our Food Security and Agriculture programs as well as our Senegal Gender and Development (SeneGAD) program, providing support from year to year. For long-term sustainability, community involvement by the Counterpart is assigned to work in collaboration with the PCV and other community members for knowledge sharing and continuity of the club once the PCV departs. In addition to the material support of the inscription fees and school/club supplies, club members engage in activities that will allow them to train others in their community on new skills that will sustain knowledge and build capacity of the greater community. Club members will elect leadership, assign roles and responsibilities and help administer the club, creating a sustainable approved with involved youth leadership. Finally, through the future planning essay, club members will be asked to specifically look at their futures in education and careers, building sustainable knowledge that will hopefully be shared with their peers and impact subsequent generations.