Students around the world are struggling to return to school in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, but these challenges are especially acute for vulnerable adolescent girls and young women in low income countries, where Covid-19 has magnified the barriers they already faced in getting an education, including HIV, economic hardship, gender-based violence, early marriage, and unintended pregnancy.
In this episode, we’re looking at why education for girls, especially secondary education, is so critical for girls’ health and development, and how Covid-19 threatens their ability to go back to school. Janet Fleischman speaks with Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya, a Kenyan educator and founder of Kakenya’s Dream, which educates and empowers girls and works to end harmful traditional practices, like female genital cutting/mutilation and child marriage. Kakenya describes the impact of Covid-19 on the school for girls that she founded in Kenya, and how the school responded. Janet then takes us to western Kenya, where she speaks to Linda Achieng Orodo, a 19-year-old secondary school student, who participates in the PEPFAR-led DREAMS program. Like many girls in her community, Linda faced many challenges in returning to school after the Covid lockdown, and she gives us a glimpse of why secondary school is so critical for girls in Kenya.