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Five ways Room to Read teaches girls to protect their bodies and themselves

March 01, 2018

Skill building

Now more than ever, the world is witnessing the power of a woman’s voice. As staggering statistics of sexual assault and harassment become increasingly visible, people are wondering how they can help. So, we’re breaking down exactly how our Girls’ Education Program equips girls with key life skills to use their voice when it counts, so you can too.

1. Creating safe spaces for critical conversations

The majority of sexual assault encounters go unreported. Whether a girl is violated by a family member, acquaintance or stranger, the shame that comes with speaking up discourages many from doing so. Our Girls’ Education students regularly participate in group mentoring, where students can be heard, discuss personal problems and work together to find solutions with their mentor.

2. Giving girls an advocate to support them during tough times

Many girls in the communities we work in face serious life decisions. Our mentors, known as social mobilizers, not only serve as strong female role models, but help girls navigate critical life decisions. This ranges from helping teens resist pressure to drop out of school for early marriage to combating depression and emotional issues amidst difficult life circumstances.

3. Preventing assault by identifying inappropriate behavior

In our life skill classes, social mobilizers use activities and relatable examples to break down what sexual harassment and assault looks like. These sessions teach girls how to react, who to turn to, and how to leave situations that make them feel uncomfortable.

4. Learning the red flags of unhealthy relationships

More than 120 million girls have been raped or sexually assaulted, most commonly by current or former partners. This tragic reality is just one of the reasons why we teach girls what problematics relationships look like. By giving examples of jealousy, threats, criticism, manipulation and verbal abuse, girls create a standard for the respect and happiness they deserve.

5. Reinforcing the power of her voice

Starting as early as sixth grade, Girls’ Education Program participants practice empowering self-talk, helping build their confidence from a young age. Every facet of the program works to give girls agency, whether it’s practicing assertive communication or reinforcing their right to say no.

With Girls’ Education Programs in India, Nepal, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, Room to Read has witnessed countless girls grow into stronger versions of themselves. With seven years of support, these girls graduate secondary school with the skills to navigate life and become agents of change in their communities. 

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