Several months after it was featured in a short film produced by former First Lady Michelle Obama, the Women's Global Education Project — a nonprofit based in Oak Park that helps girls in Africa stay in school and access educational opportunities — announced it is launching an ambitious campaign to raise $1 million to reach 20,000 more girls in remote areas of East and West Africa by the spring of 2021.
Founded in 2004, the Women's Global Education Project has collaborated with community leaders in Kenya and Senegal to design programs meant to enhance access to educational opportunities for more than 15,500 adolescent girls and women, according to the organization's internal data.
The nonprofit offers weekly school visits, mobile libraries, computer labs, adult literacy programs and scholarships to young African women. And the organization's Alternative Rites of Passage program provides families a safe alternative to female genital mutilation which often accompanies a girl's becoming a woman.
The process of female genital mutilation involves cutting the external genitalia and is believed to "purify" young girls, readying them for marriage and traditional wifely responsibilities. Amy Maglio, the Oak Park nonprofit's founder and executive director said that Women's Global works with local leaders who have already determined that the practice is harmful and stifles opportunities for upward mobility for many young women.
"What makes our program unique is our close partnerships with local leaders and the range of services we are able to provide," said Maglio who is confident that her organization will reach its goal.
"We already have such a high success rate in keeping girls in school," she said. "We know how to do it. We know there's a high return and it's life-changing for girls who are in the program, so we thought it's our time to lead and be part of this movement for women and girls around the world."
Maglio said the nonprofit is building on a major jolt of momentum received earlier this year, when its work was highlighted in a 2½-minute film produced as part of Michelle Obama's Global Girls Alliance, an initiative of the Obama Foundation. The film debuted on a variety of social media platforms, including YouTube, in April.
"Our association with the Obama Foundation has raised the profile of the organization," Maglio said. "People are definitely taking another look. It is validation that we are on the right track and in the right direction."
Maglio said Women's Global will participate in the Obama Foundation's 2019 summit in Chicago on Oct. 28 and 29. And the organization will host a fundraiser on Oct. 7, 6 to 9 p.m., at Salvage One, 1840 W. Hubbard St. in Chicago. Tickets are $150 per individual and $75 for young professionals.
To purchase a ticket, visit: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/WomensGlobalEducationProje/ndajee2019.html.
To donate to Women's Global, visit the organization's website at womensglobal.org or call Amy Maglio at 708-415-7410.
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