Derartu and a friend studying

In Ethiopia, nearly half of girls do not complete primary education, and just 25% go on to secondary school. High rates of child marriage and societal stigmas act as barriers to completing school—meaning many girls grow up without the vital knowledge, skills, and independence that come with a complete education. This gender gap in education perpetuates cycles of poverty for generations, especially in Ethiopia’s rural communities.

Through targeted initiatives, Glimmer is working toward a future where education is accessible and valued for all girls. In Ethiopia’s Oromia region, Glimmer-supported girls’ clubs light a path to empowerment for young women. Girls’ club leaders like Zeinu and Derartu are leading the way.

Zeinu

Girls' Club Leader

Zeinu smiling

When Glimmer met Zeinu, a bright and ambitious secondary student, she was vocal about the challenges at her school and her desire for change. Gender-based bullying was rampant, and stigmas around menstruation forced most girls to leave class and miss school regularly. 

Glimmer stepped in to support the girls’ club at Zeinu’s school—providing trainings, support, menstrual hygiene resources, and a designated space for girls to meet safely with their peers.

Since then, the club has seen a remarkable growth in membership, and the school-wide attitude towards menstruation has shifted. Girls are attending school consistently, even during their menstrual cycles, and entering the girls’ club room is no longer a source of embarrassment.

"Boys used to laugh at us when we entered the girls’ club room but now, they don't."

Zeinu proudly reports that girls at her school have gained confidence and are more openly sharing their struggles with each other. She and fellow club members advocate boldly for continued education and have intervened when peers are pressured by their families to get married or drop out of school. As Zeinu prepares for university, she is mentoring a younger student to fill her leadership position, ensuring that the change at her school continues to take hold. 

Derartu

Girls' Club Leader

Derartu studying

Derartu dreams of attending university and becoming a doctor. Yet she faced pressure from her parents to drop out of school and marry as a child—a path she had already seen flatten the educational hopes of her sisters. But, armed with the knowledge and resources from her Glimmer-supported girls’ club, she refused to leave her education behind.

Derartu shared that her girls’ club gave her “the strength to tolerate challenges,” and empowered her to take the bold step to move out of her family home and enroll herself in secondary school.

Now living independently with a group of girls her age, Derartu is unwavering in her goals for higher education. She shares these dreams for her peers, as well: Derartu is working hard to grow the girls’ club membership at her new school and is passionate about motivating other girls to believe in themselves and take hold of their futures.

"Giving up on girl participation isn't a solution. Girls shouldn't give up on their goals, they need to look further and work hard to achieve them."