End Child Marriage Through Education

“By getting men to reject the practices that subordinate women and girls and subject them to violence, we can get to the root of child marriage.”
-Wanjala Wafula, The Coexist Initiative

 

On Wednesday, October 11, 2017 the world recognized International Day of Girl Child and the focus of this year was child marriage.  It is unfortunate but necessary for us to recognize the plight of young girls around the world being forced to marry before the age of 18.  

One of our applicants at the Asherah Foundation was a child bride herself, forced to marry a man 40 years older than her following a forced female circumcision ritual. She was expected to accept that she will not have a role in society other than besides housework and raising children. She was subject to sexual exploitation and felt like a slave in her own home for two years, until she found an opportunity to leave. She escaped from her village and is now in pursuit of her second degree, so that she can assist with community development and improve the lives of young women. Her story has encouraged us to share this problem young girls are facing.

We have also heard from women whose mothers or sisters were married off as children, and they have fought for their right to pursue education. Others have dedicated their pursuit of education to finding solutions for treatment of women in their society. As stated by one of our applicants, Kimuli Doreen, “The education system in Uganda today is facing challenges including, early child marriages, increased child sacrifices, high school dropout, rape, [and] women discrimination,” and she is dedicated to positive change in her community. A common theme in these applicants stories is the change education made in their lives.

Her youth makes her unable to be an equal in her marriage.  Her voice is silenced in matters of finance, her reproductive rights, and her education.  While a girl is physically able to conceive at a young age, she is not physically ready to birth. According to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), “Pregnancy is consistently among the leading causes of death for girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide.”

As stated by the ICRW, “Educating adolescent girls has been a critical factor in increasing the age of marriage in a number of developing countries, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.” Aside from the stability and opportunities that stem from higher, women will also be more their own reproductive health.  


Child marriage typically results in girls being financially dependent upon their husbands.  By attending college, women are more likely to find employment in an industry that pays more which improves the living standard for them and their families. They will have the financial stability to make their own decisions and pursue their own dreams.

Women pursuing education has a spiraling effect, in which their children will be more inspired to follow through with higher education. It’s also shown that women who earn an income give back to their community and support social causes more than their male counterparts.  These women are more likely to protect their daughters and other girls within their community, which brings us one step closer to the end of child marriage.  

 

 

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Why is writing important?

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” – Toni Morrison.

 

At the Asherah Foundation, we simply believe that writing is an essential part of our world, and it changes the lives of many. We believe that women are capable of doing anything and everything that men can do, including leading successful writing careers and inspiring another generation of young girls.

If a young woman wants to change the world through her writing, she must first be given the chance to. However, on a global scale, these opportunities may not come as easily for women as they would for men. This is one of the reasons why we find that, today, there are far more male writers than female writers. We have found that the gender gap that exists economically, politically and socially throughout many career fields also exists in the field of literature. The Asherah Foundation wants to address the lack of female frontrunners in writing and the literary gender gap.

The Asherah Foundation would like to introduce you to Azza Bondok, a young writer who is determined to pursue her dream to study literature and the English language. When she was young girl, her father encouraged her to create her own ending to an already existing masterpiece by Naguib Mahfouz. Ever since then, she hasn’t stopped writing.

Today, Ms. Azza Bondok writes fiction in Arabic. She has also published two pieces of work: one was a novella called Almira’h, and the other was a short story collection called Dystopia. Ms. Bondok is able to empower others through her writing, and connect with them through her words. We are witnessing a dedicated, passionate and exceptional young woman change the world by living her dreams.

The Asherah foundation has found that there are many women who have contributed great pieces of work to the world, including, but definitely not limited to, Maya Angelou, J.K. Rowling and Emily Dickinson. For these women, the journey was not easy, but the success in pursuing their passion has brought about immeasurable changes in our world. Not only have they captured our hearts and our attention through their stories, but they have inspired a younger generation to pursue their own dream of writing.

The Asherah Foundation believes that women should not be held back in the pursuit of their dreams.  With the right resources and support, women can change the world, and we are here to assist them in doing so. After all, William Faulkner once said, “If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” So let your story out, and let it change the world.

Give a second chance to go to school!

Support our sisters!

Follow us below to hear these women’s individual stories:

The Importance of Economic Development for Women

“Higher education is the strongest, sturdiest ladder to increased socio-economic mobility.” -Drew Faust, President Harvard University

Financial independence is a gateway to freedom. A large issue women face around the world is lack of financial freedom, which creates dependency upon spouses, family members or communities, leading to the inability to speak up against any injustices. At The Asherah Foundation, we believe that financial independence derives from education. Aside from the increase in job opportunities, an education can create liberation and confidence in individuals all around the world.

Uneducated women are typically left out of crucial decision making processes that ultimately affect them and their rights, creating a cycle of women without education unable to change their rights to education. While the number of women entering primary, secondary and higher education globally is increasing, there are still significant barriers to the accessibility of education, created by poverty, ethnicity, geography, and culture.

Increasing the accessibility of education and encouraging women to obtain higher level degrees will lead to their fulfilling of higher level positions. Women in higher positions gain authority, respect and higher pay. Receiving higher pay will create a level of economic freedom for these women, so that they may use their authority and respect to bring changes in their community, without fear of those they were previously dependent on. As more women follow this path, they can begin to advocate for others all around the world. When creating rules and laws concerning the rights of women, The Asherah Foundation believes that we must educate those that will be affected, so that they may have a say in their rights.

Furthermore, as we educate our women and help them gain financial independence, we can begin to combat issues such as domestic violence and sexism. As women gain confidence in the work place, we can expect to see an improvement in their familial affairs, political stances and communities. Educated women can establish their own political leadership, create systematic changes, improve the lives of their children and educate the rest of their society on the importance of feminism. The Asherah Foundation strongly believes that educating women leads to necessary socio-economic and political changes that will allow women to gain the respect and equality they deserve.

Consider giving to our cause, so that we can continue to support women around the world on their journey with education:

Give a second chance to go to school!

Support our sisters!

Follow us below to hear these women’s individual stories:

STEM Education: The Journey of Amani Jebril

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.” – Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the United States of America


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education for women and girls is critical for the improvement and well-being of society.  We have seen evidence that young girls interested in the sciences and maths are discouraged from pursuing those passions because they are taught that those are male subjects.  The Asherah Foundation recognizes that when girls are supported and encouraged in following their endeavors, they perform as well as their male counterparts.  Women bring a different perspective to problem solving, and we are committed to a world in which women can flourish in STEM.  


This is one of the many reasons The Asherah Foundation is delighted to share the story of Amani Jebril. Ms. Jebril was the recipient of our Second Chance scholarship in 2016.  She started on her journey by becoming a science teacher in Palestine, where she inspired her students to take their science education beyond the classroom.  In addition to changing the way these students viewed the scientific world, Ms. Jebril helped develop school scientific initiatives, such as using alternative energy sources for addressing real issues in the community.  While her accomplishments as an educator are impressive, she saw the larger problems facing those living in Palestine, and sought to further her education in order to improve her community in areas such as environmental pollution and shortage of water. She is dedicated to giving back to her community.

Ms. Jebril recognized that women and children are the most affected by environmental pollution and the scarcity of water, and that there are very few women studying these issues.  She is using her Second Chance Scholarship in order to earn her Masters degree in Water and Environmental Engineering and Sciences from Birzeit University.  In addition to her time spent in school, this remarkable young woman has been selected to consult on a Birzeit University project that aims to improve and develop studies in her field. She continues to create opportunities for the spread of scientific knowledge, and her contributions to education display her commitment to giving back to those around her, to better her community.


Asherah is proud to support Amani Jebril in her pursuit of higher education. We hope that you will follow Ms. Jebril’s footsteps in the spirit of giving back, in order to provide these opportunities to women around the world.

Give a second chance to go to school!

Support our sisters!

Follow us below to hear these women’s individual stories:

2017’s Diverse Applicant Pool: Learn About These Incredible Women!

The Asherah Foundation’s 2017 applicant pool had 96 applicants! In order to understand more about our applicants, we have performed a statistical analysis.

Our 2017 applicants are global citizens, representing 39 different countries all across the world, which is displayed in figure one below.

2017 applicant pool graph one.pngFigure one: Home country of each applicant

We had 40 applicants from different areas across Africa. There were 4 women from southern Africa, 8 from northern Africa, 9 from western Africa and 19 from eastern Africa (mostly Uganda)! Our second largest pool of women was from Asia, spread across countries in the Middle East and south and west Asia, with a total of 38 applicants. The Asherah Foundation heard the stories of wonderful women from many different countries, including India, Pakistan, Lebanon and Syria.

Though Africa had ahigher applicant pool than Asia, the individual country with the highest number of applicants was Palestine, with a total of 10 outstanding women. Additionally, we received applications from women in the USA, Jamaica, Belize, Belgium and Italy. Overall, the Asherah Foundation is extremely pleased with the diversity of our outreach to women all around the world.

Our next analysis (displayed in figure two) was of the types of degrees being pursued by these impressive women.

2017 applicant pool graph two.png

Figure two: degree type

The majority of these women are pursuing graduate degrees to further their education, with 11 moving on to doctorate degrees. The Asherah Foundation was incredibly inspired by the dedication and commitment these women have to their education.

Third, after looking at their home countries and types of degrees, The Asherah Foundation was curious to see what countries these women will be pursuing their education in, shown in figure three.

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 7.03.36 PM.png

Figure three: the countries our applicants will study in

Many of our 2017 applicants intend to study in USA, the United Kingdom, and Palestine, and the rest are spread out across 27 other countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The Asherah foundation also wanted to explore the different subject areas that are being studied (figure four).

2017 applicant pool graph 3.png

Figure four: majors of study

There are 29 different subject areas, with the five highest percentages in science, business and finance, education, management, and medicine. The sciences are the highest at 12%. The sciences encompasses various fields, including physics, biomedical sciences, computer science, and chemistry. The Asherah Foundation is proud to share the stories and promote the successof our sisters around the world.

Finally, The Asherah Foundation would like to recognize the different age groups that are present in our 2017 applicant pool (figure 5).2017 applicant pool graph four.png

Figure five: range of ages

The ages of our applicants range from the youngest being 18 years old to the oldest being 52 years old. The most common age of our applicants is 26. We are excited to see such a broad range of ages that are continuing their education, following their dreams and creating a greater world for all of us.

Overall, The Asherah Foundation is overwhelmingly excited to see our outreach and mission growing to cover an abundance of countries, fields of study and ages. We are ecstatic to find a growth in recognition of the importance of supporting women globally, in the pursuit of education. With every application that our team receives, we are one step closer to a world that encourages our sisters to live out their passions. We are eager to find out what marvelous women our 2018 applicant pool will hold!

Interested in contributing to women around the world in their pursuit of higher education? Click on either link below:

Give a second chance to go to school!

Support our sisters!

Follow us below to hear these women’s individual stories:

 

2017 Second Chance Scholarship Recipient: Maryline Jarbar

“When women thrive, all of society benefits.” – Kofi Anna

In its second year of offering the Second Chance Scholarship, The Asherah Foundation is pleased to find that our application pool has increased and our outreach is growing. We received almost 100 applications from 30 different countries. Women from countries including Yemen, India and South Sudan shared their phenomenal stories with The Asherah Foundation.  Our 2017 recipient selection process was difficult, as many of the applicants were deserving of this scholarship! We will continue to share stories of their incredible accomplishments on this blog.

The Asherah Foundation is delighted to introduce the exceptional Maryline Jarbar as our award recipient for the year of 2017. Ms. Jarbar overcame significant adversities in her life and continues to pursue her dreams courageously. She is the only member of her family thus far to have a secondary education and is furthering her studies in order to stay competitive in Liberia’s job market.

Ms. Jarbar is working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Health Sciences at the Stella Maris Polytechnic University in Monrovia, Liberia. She is dedicated to the development of her country and the increase of opportunities for disadvantaged children and women in Liberia, and plans to use her degree to empower these communities. Through her advocacy, she hopes to contribute to the progress of literacy for all, better health conditions, and clean drinking water. The small village she comes from lacks basic social services and her dream is to fight for an improved society. One of Maryline’s many recommendations came from Pastor Waplo Dolh of the United Church of God in Christ. He highlighted her substantial contribution to her church community as Head of the Women’s Department.

The Asherah Foundation’s Board of Directors is honored to support Ms. Jarbar in her educational journey, commitment to development, and passions. We look forward to her success and congratulate her on receiving the Second Chance Scholarship!

Follow Maryline’s journey:

Interested in contributing to women around the world in their pursuit of higher education? Support our work!

2017 Second Chance Scholarship Application -Now Open!

The Asherah Foundation’s 2017 Second Chance Scholarship applications are now open! Our scholarship is open to women all over the world who  have a high school diploma or equivalent and who desire to begin or continue to pursue a post-secondary education or technical training program with the intent of acquiring skills necessary to advance in the workplace.

The maximum award amount is $2500 US and can be renewed for the subsequent semester. The award can be applied to expenses pertaining to a four-year college degree, associate degree, an accredited vocation/training program, or other post-secondary credential for the payment of costs relating to the recipient’s registration costs, tuition and related expenses for books, lab fees, and other classroom supplies and fees required under the recipient’s school curriculum. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2017.

If you or anyone you know is eligible to apply for the scholarship and would like more information, please visit our website here.

Asherah Foundation to Host National Volunteer Week Celebration!

National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 as a celebration of change-makers. This year, it falls on April 23-April 29, 2017 and we are taking the time out to shine light on our volunteers and recognize all the people who help make the world a better place. Over 62 million people volunteer every year in the United States alone! These people dedicate their time and resources to support a variety of causes including those in education, healthcare, arts, human services and so much more.

We are striving for unity and solidarity. Volunteers bring about change and in today’s increasingly interconnected world, we must all band together and use our collective power to support our fellow citizens. Currently, there are over 80,000 charitable nonprofit organizations in the D.M.V. area alone that volunteers have supported.

Statistics show that Washington, D.C. residents donate over $894 million to charitable organizations each year! These donations go towards the support of organizations that reach millions of people in need of services such as the Asherah Foundation.

The Asherah Foundation will be hosting an event in honor of National Volunteer Week on Thursday, April 27, 2017 to celebrate our change agents! This event will be hosted at 15th and Eads Restaurant in Arlington, VA from 6-8 p.m.

All attendees will get the chance to mix and mingle with the volunteers that dedicate their and talents in support of the foundation. Complimentary appetizers, wine and beer will also be served. Donations will be accepted and all proceeds go towards the support of the Asherah Foundation Second Chance Scholarship for Women!

Why do you volunteer? Come out and let us know!

Tickets for the event can be purchased on Eventbrite at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/national-volunteer-week-celebration-tickets-33080137582?aff=erelexpmlt.

Asherah Foundation hosts International Women’s Day at Washington, DC

The Asherah Foundation will host the 2017 International Women’s Day celebration in Washington, DC, United States on Wednesday, March 8. This sought-after event will reveal the tremendous work and life-changing impact of women around the world. The international community, global leaders, gender and human rights advocates, business executives, philanthropists and donor agencies among other notable change-makers will also be in attendance. Amidst networking and women empowerment discussions, the audience will enjoy wine, chocolate and light hors d’oeuvres in celebration of these amazing women.

Every year, March 8 has been highlighted as the International Women’s Day to celebrate the success, setbacks and prospects of women and girls around the world. The United Nations, UN member states, nonprofits, civil sector and the business community join in this annual celebration through a variety of outreach activities, advocacy campaigns – online and location based, women-centred events and high level panel sessions.

The Asherah Foundation is a United States 501[c][3] organisation dedicated to providing Second Chance Scholarships to women around to access postsecondary education. These women have been refugees,  single mothers, victims of domestic violence, gender-biased societal norms and many others who have overcome tremendous adversities. Your support and beliefs in our cause keeps us going stronger and empowering more women.

The March 8 event will be held at: WeWork, 1875 K Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20006, United States. The time is 6pm to 8pm EST. This event will also serve as the one year anniversary celebration of The Asherah Foundation. All proceeds generated will support The Asherah Foundation’s Second Chance Scholarships program for Women around the world.

Register for the event and buy your tickets at Asherah Foundation – International Women’s Day – March 8

 

AUTHOR: DERRICK KWABENA AGYAPONG

Natural Flow

Like the relationship of flowers to thorns, valleys to mountains, and the sea to a desert, “Art is the harmony of how things fit together,” my father told me. Everything in the world seeks a bond. Hands move to create, to reassemble an old vision, to communicate. Ears listen. Eyes see. A sour taste of sweat lingers between the lips. Wet ink and paint leave their mark on blank pages. Hungry for fulfilment, the touch begins with the beat of the heart.

In a society, enlightenment reflects through the community’s creative and literacy output, wherever it may feed, be it science, medicine, astronomy or poetry. During an economic downfall, humanities and art programs are first to suffer, which undermines their crucial role in a healthy and well-being. Indeed, the very program I am attending was subject to cuts in the first semester of my enrollment. Computer and industrial technology soared to alarming levels, whereby hand-required skills were severely ignored and harmed, a trend that limits public resources to arts, literature and craft, and marginalizes the essential role of culture to a vital living.

Book Art has become a rare and unique discipline. The program at Mills College overcame the shortsighted plan to have it eliminated. A flow of letters from international practicing bookmakers and organizations in the field had a share in keeping the program alive. The five semester MFA Book Art and Creative Writing program culminates into a final thesis exhibition, coming up in November for our 2015 cohort. Four semesters in, the experience of higher education equipped me with a wealth of tools and information. During my studies, I was able to develop my vision and voice, learning new skills and building confidence around my ideas and projects. It is my intention to pass on the knowledge gained during my time at Mills College to generations across the globe, through literacy activities and practices.

Bookmaking, painting, writing and performance mediums are used to compose various projects. Among them, Nun, a one of a kind in-progress hand bound book that references The Noble Quran. A series of paintings were inspired by the Arabic alphabetical character, Nun and an in-depth research exploring the narrative of language through the Arabic alphabet accompanies the work. A series of books titled Arching, utilize visual storytelling techniques to explore ways of reading and the nature of language to a broad audience. In addition, Anonymous Letter Writing, a community initiative, tackles the connection between handwriting and self-expression, the importance of craft, and the accessibility of art in the age of technology. A proposal to Mills College awarded the project the Writing and Community Engagement Fellowship in a competitive application process.

Arching (page from a book), ink on paper 2017, 5×7″, 2017arching2017-manar-harb

The entire community will be responsible for reiterating the place of the book in our contemporary society. With literature, paper-technology and bookmaking, let’s combine our efforts to strengthen the craft and art community worldwide, spread knowledge, and increase access to scholarly resources and creative outlets.

Thanks to the Asherah Foundation for the visibility.

 

– MANAR HARB

Manar Harb grew up in Ramallah, Palestine. She attended the Friends Schools and moved to the United States during the Second Palestinian Intifada, which erupted in 2001. She finished her last year of high school in Madison West High School and completed her Bachelor of Arts studies in Business Administration and Marketing at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida. After returning home for five years, she moved to Oakland, California, to pursue her higher education. Find more images of her work and inspiration posts on Instagram: @mharb85

Email: manar.harb@gmail.com