In Zambia, girls experience high rates of exclusion from education due to extreme poverty, early marriages, and pregnancy which are most prevalent in the rural areas. This challenges us to empower the most marginalized girls in rural Zambia to attain a full secondary education by providing them with comprehensive support, material and non-material, to meet and inspire them to reach their full potential.
The Paideia Project having identified this and recognizing the hardships that girls experience throughout the world for them to have equal and inclusive access to education and basic human rights, came up with a two-part video and written responses answering the questions: what education means to different black women and the future they hope to see in education,as a way to stir the conversations about the importance of girls and women in education and their contribution to world economies, therefore, bridging this gap of inequality and exclusivity to opportunities and resources for marginalized groups in society which women are a part of.
As a way to kick start this project which we hope grows into a movement bringing hope to our girls, these are the responses we collected, and we thank everyone for their contribution and words of encouragement.
WE ASKED A FEW BLACK WOMEN WHAT EDUCATION MEANS TO THEM, HERE IS WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY:
In addition to the video responses, the Paideia Project asked more black women what education means to them and here’s what they had to say:
Ann Holland – Feminist and Co-founder of Sistah Sistah Foundation: When I think of Education for black women, I think of freedom. We’ve been locked out of rooms for so long that our lack of financial freedom and education has made us the bottom of the barrel. We are underpaid, discriminated against, and taken advantage of because we aren’t at the same level as other races and genders. They had a head start and used our free labor to get to the top. When you look at Africa, it wasn’t until the late 50s that black women were allowed in classrooms and the consequences of that have been disastrous for black women both economically and socially. So education for us black women is a chance to grow, be financially independent, more knowledgeable, and skillful and to me, that’s the birth of freedom.
StephyLately – Market Analyst/Lifestyle blogger: As a blank woman; Education to me means empowerment. Education paves the way to newfound freedom. It opens doors that would seem far-fetched without it. Therefore, we all should have an equal opportunity to get educated.
Nzovwa Kasanda: As a black woman, education for me means a gateway to dream bigger than my reality. It gives me the platform to be anything I want to be not shackled by society’s opinions of what or who I can be.
Beliya – Digital Specialist: Education means freedom to express myself, my thoughts, and my desires at a higher level. Education is the key to success, and this is something I can testify to as a young black woman who has managed to successfully operate a business since her university days. I am determined to be a part of educating young women in my community. One day at a time.
Inota Cheta – Co-Founder She Entrepreneur: Education to me means knowledge. Knowledge co-exists with empowerment. Education means an opportunity to live life on your terms. Education means an opportunity to create a decent livelihood.
Mwanja: Based on what my relationship with education has been and continues to be, I will describe it as my pass to a seat at the table. As a woman, a black African woman education has been an active variable in my understanding of the world around me and what role I decide to play. Simply put, without what I have amassed at a mental and intellectual level, I would not be in a position to write this; to articulate myself without fear of challenging my thoughts. I would not be in a position to expect my words to be shared outside my mind, outside my space, my family, and potentially the rest of the world once it gets to this website. As such, education to me means validation, freedom, voice, and representation. What I know and continue to learn is crucial in the quality of life for all black women that will come after me.
Lumbiwe Limbikani – Education, Tech, and Teacher Development Specialist: What does education mean to me as a black woman: It means a voice, freedom, and empowerment. A voice for me and from me to ask for and seek equity, freedom of choice because I am empowered. Empowered to do more for me and also lift others along the way.
Tiza: Education to me as a black woman is having access to knowledge & tools that allow me to exist, thrive, and excel as a person, on my terms. Education to me is freedom. I hope to see a future where young black women and girls can get an education without economic, social, and cultural obstructions.
Foster Chibwe – Human Rights activist focused on access to opportunities and sustainability: Education to me as a black woman means access to opportunities & resources that can enable me to create wealth for myself & future generations. It also opens my mind to question the legal, political, social, and economic environment where I exist as a human being. The most important thing about education is the self-awareness it brings that catalyzes self-actualization.
Ishimwe Pacifique Liyana – Cofounder of Basali, The New Woman: Education to me as a black woman means access. Access to opportunities that have historically been denied to me and girls like me based on race, sex, and gender. This should never be the case obviously but it is. And education is the bridge. Depending on the stratification of society, women will earn up to 21% less than men of the same race, for black women, the percentages are higher. Education is a factor in these numbers, if girls have education, they then have the opportunity to Access better opportunities and research has shown, the chance to earn more, live a better quality of life. Women who have access to education are also most likely to seek help when found in abusive situations. Education is a lifesaver for women, especially black women.
Tauya Nankamba: As a black woman, education to me means power, freedom, access, self-definition, and happiness. Education of black women gives us the power to make better decisions, be it in our daily lives, politically, financially, marriage. It encompasses a lot of aspects really but with regards to what I fore mentioned: politically women are generally underrepresented and to an extent restricted in their participation in politics which harms the policies that are put out in different countries, most of which are centered on privileged men and leave (black)women in vulnerable positions in society. Education gives black women the freedom to express themselves freely and also knowledgeably as equals or above the other sex and other privileged white women. Freedom to travel the world, freedom to run their lives how they see it fit or desire to. It gives women access to so many possibilities, like gaining an income. A lot of women, in general, earn less than men and it’s an even lesser percentage for black women but having the access to earning an income and provide yourself and family and possibly your community as well as a huge advantage! It not only helps with the GDP of your country but also helps reduce the levels of poverty among black women all around the world. Education also enables women to define themselves as they want and not be condescendingly labeled by society and men (even though that isn’t a guarantee). Education also means happiness because when you’re knowledgeable, be it formal education or self-taught, you’re in a position to make decisions and think in a way that truly pleases and benefits you, you’ve put in a position to earn an income and spoil yourself and not be manipulated by perverted and entitled men just to get a job or your hands on some money. It makes you happy knowing you did that! You’re that girl! and are constantly learning/unlearning and improving yourself.
Gracia K. Senga – Founder of More Graca Clothing Store: What does education mean to me as a black woman: I believe education is power. Education makes me feel in control, makes me feel confident and relevant.