Preventing sexual exploitation and abuse of girls in schools through social advocacy and empowerment

Dadaab Sub Program

Most girls in Dadaab are either married off early or left at home. Social Advocacy Teams (SATs) are social advocacy peer groups formed with support from UNICEF. They bring young girls together to learn life skills, get guidance and counselling, speak freely about the challenges they face and encourage each other and support other girls within the community. Amina, a refugee school-going girl has shared her experiences from the SATs.

“I came here 4 years ago because of only one reason — education! Before I joined my social advocacy group, I could not talk about anything. But right now, I can discuss any rights of a girl. We have girls’ meetings of 20 to 30 minutes as only. We talk about the problems that girls face. I can stand up and speak about the problems I have seen, like early marriage, restrictions from access to learning opportunities by community members as well as weak motivation for learning,” says Amina, a school-going young girl at Dadaab refugee camp.

In the group Amina and other members discuss topics on child protection, violence against children, gender-based violence, education and how they can reach out to other girls.

Through partnership with UNICEF, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), under protection and social cohesion, strengthened the capacity of the people delivering services in education by training teachers on the Competency Based Curriculum, and also strengthening the capacity of the people offering psychosocial support and guidance and counselling to children. LWF with UNICEF support also purchased and distributed learning and teaching materials that included textbooks to learners in Dadaab schools.

During one of the sessions attended by LWF in Dadaab, one of the girls recited a poem about the rights of a girl and the love for education in front of her group. They make use of creative art pieces as a form of expression for their right and also to educate and sensitize other girls on the same.

Yasmin Hassan, a Psychosocial Counsellor from LWF (until 28 June 2022), would speaks often to the girls who are members of the social advocacy group. She works with the various schools where the Social Advocacy Teams are with each team assigned a teacher to guide the discussion with support from the Counsellor. As a Muslim lady working with them and having benefitted from UNICEF’s training, Yasmin is also a role model to the girls.

“Through the psychosocial services we provide in the 22 schools across the three camps, we work with school counselors who are trained on guidance and counselling to help monitor the social advocacy teams where we now focus on providing life skills to these children. Just three months ago we concluded the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) where we had more than 200 girls completing class eight and this is a very big achievement because over the recent years, we were not able to achieve this number of girls finishing their primary school;” said Yasmin.