They say confidence is everything. On the #InternationalDayoftheGirl 2018, we are sharing with you the words used by SVP students to describe how their self-confidence has improved and how the potential to have their say impacts their future.
The mission of the Sacred Valley Project is to provide boarding and supplementary education for young women from low income families in remote areas of the Andes so that they can continue and complete their secondary education. HOWEVER, it's what happens between the lines is what has changed the girls outlook the most.
In this area of Peru, many women will not look another person in the eye, will not speak above a whisper, cannot speak Spanish (the national language of commerce), and often will not participate in community decisions. SVP students, within one year of the program, show immense change in behavior. The girls’ confidence rises, they speak up and express themselves in ways they didn’t know they had the capability of, and their overall self-esteem and confidence is lifted.
While we have known this to be true for some time, we have begun measuring this leadership and self-confidence skill development by using a tool created by one of our partners, Starfish Impact. The evaluation tool is called the Sustainable Development Goal 5 Gender Equality Survey. The purpose of this survey is to learn about participants’ perspectives and experiences, in order to improve the program to best suit their unique needs as they relate to empowerment and access to opportunities. Though we have only been using this tool for one year, the results from 2017 show SVP students reporting most often that “self-confidence, goal setting, personal expression, and self-esteem” were among the some of the most common changes they had seen in themselves since they became participants of the program.
Aside from beginning to be able to measure our own results, we know that educated women increase the economic growth potential of a community, have a better chance of surviving childbirth, have smaller and healthier families, result in healthier and better educated children, and can have a greater effect on reducing harm to families from natural disasters and climate change (Sperling & Winthrop, 2016). We are only just beginning and can’t wait to see what the future holds for SVP girls.