21st Century Skills are one of three important components within the Know&Grow project in Ratanak Kiri, Cambodia. Women's empowerment, particularly of ethnic minority girls, plays a major part in the development of 21st Century Skills. In order to promote women's empowerment within the 11 target schools, Girl’s Clubs have been set up to allow female students to learn and discuss their issues related to female adolescence growing up in remote areas.
Sopanar, a female Loatian student with three years of participation in the club, is very happy to be a part of this Girl’s Club as it has given her and others the opportunity to study on important topics such as menstruation, the prevention of STD’s, and early marriage.
She said: “early marriage leads to early pregnancy which is especially bad for adolescent girls as it is not healthy to have a baby at a young age. Also, it is difficult for young people to take on such a big responsibility of taking care of a family. Sometimes, it can lead to domestic violence.”
Soan Na, another Girl’s Club member, added: “before I did not know about the problems of early marriage and how important it is to plan for my future. This knowledge has shown me the importance of finishing my education and finding good employment opportunities before planning for a family”
Both Soan Na and Sopanar believe it is important to share their knowledge with classmates, both male and female, who are not part of the Girl’s Club.
Girl’s Club sessions helped them to identify the challenges women face, especially with regards to family planning.
Vann stated “before, many of the girls lacked confidence, leadership and were a lot weaker. The Girl’s Club has helped us improve our confidence”. Jort further elaborated “the club will improve our future by increasing our bravery and leadership skills”. The entire group believe they have a duty to pass on their knowledge and skills to benefit other students in the school.
Nara, a female teacher who has led and given lesson in the club for the past three years, has seen some noticeable changes amongst the students. The students are demonstrating their ability to prevent early marriage, sexually transmitted diseases, practice menstrual hygiene, and women's leadership. In addition, the dropout rate of students has declined with 100 percent of the Girls’ Club members continuing their education. The Club members also play a big role in encouraging the students who dropout to come back to school.
These activities are part of the Know&Grow project, which is supported by the Patsy Collins Trust Fund Initiative, Ping Y Tai and many other.