Educating girls can help to reduce infant mortality rate, improve maternal health and tackle the spread of HIV and AIDS. However, there are 58 million girls worldwide who are not in school and the majority of these girls live in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia*.
This issue is keenly felt in the cocoa-growing communities of the Côte d’Ivoire, where 44% of girls of school-going age are not in education, compared to 33% of boys**.
Mathilde Koua N’Godo Sokoty, Nestlé Cocoa Plan’s Human Rights Manager in Côte d’Ivoire, tells us, “It is particularly hard for girls here to study after school, as their mothers expect them to help with chores around the home for hours. That leaves them too tired to do homework, and they often start to fall behind the boys.”
Another factor preventing girls getting quality education is the simple provision of toilets at schools. Many schools in the Côte d’Ivoire do not have any toilets at all. Girls find this particularly difficult as they have to walk into unsafe areas or trudge several kilometers home to a relative’s house to use the toilet. This can interrupt learning or even discourage school attendance altogether.
Having identified this issue, the NCP has financed the construction of hygienic, modern toilets for girls, boys and staff in every school in which it has been directly involved in refurbishing or building. It is a simple measure, but one that makes a significant difference.
• Providing girls with one extra year of schooling beyond the average can boost their eventual wages by 10 to 20%.*
• In Africa, children of mothers who receive five years of primary education are 40% more likely to live beyond age five*.
• An educated woman is 50% more likely to have her children immunised against childhood diseases.*