At the end of the invigorating and stimulating three day Skoll World Forum I met with Kennedy Odede, founder of Shining Hope for Communities, (SHOFCO) and Kibera School for Girls. Our meeting was inspiring and poignant and echoed many themes I had heard throughout the conference regarding the importance of girl's education. It seems fitting that I tie my interview with Kennedy to these issues in this article.
When asked, only seven per cent of parents said that they would encourage their girls to be engineers - despite the fact that girls show an active interest in STEM subjects from an early age. Could it be that parents are limiting their children's future career choices through outdated perceptions of the jobs they think girls and boys are interested in?
Women and girls face discrimination due to gender, potential disabilities and stigma - a triple jeopardy. According to UNDP, girls and women affected by leprosy make up some of the world's poorest and most marginalised groups, disproportionately affected by poverty, illiteracy and lack of education which act as barriers to seeking health treatment. Women and girls with leprosy and those affected by other neglected tropical diseases have the right to health care and the barriers to that stop this must be addressed.
More and more, we are hearing about the convergence of health and education. You can't learn if you are out of school sick. Lack of education leads to poverty and in turn the inability to access healthcare. To lead productive lives, people need both health and education: the two are cause and effect.