Equality and Empowerment Project
JSF is passionate about supporting local community projects, no matter how small, often overlooked by larger organisations. JSF believes everyone deserves to be educated and treated equally.
The Empowerment and Equality Project is an initiative of Jump Start Foundation (JSF) as part of our charter. The JSF charter includes education initiatives in the Pacific, connecting children, their schools and the support of local community through projects. Focus on gender equality in education enables women to be agents of change within their communities. In cooperation with the Isangel Central Primary School (ICPS) and previously Isangel College (IC) communities JSF provides opportunities for young women to pursue their personal development, increase their confidence and leadership skills, enabling girls to ascertain their current needs and make future plans to improve their own situations.
We are currently updating our strategies for future support of gender equality and female empowerment.
In the past, we have supported and sponsored girls in sport, who would not otherwise have access to these opportunities.
In the future, JSF believes the funds allocated to sponsorship of girls to participate in the Vanuatu Independence Day Relay that is held each July in Port Vila can be redirected in a comprehensive manner to more efficiently and broadly assist the community to eliminate disparity in education between girls and boys. JSF now plans to more effectively provide opportunities for young women to achieve personal development, confidence and leadership skills.
We will continue to:
- Provide the opportunity for female students to participate in empowerment workshops comprising sessions delivered by ni-Vanuatu speakers on personal development, health and employment opportunities. This workshop is videoed so that all current and future girls in the school can benefit from this educational resource.
- Provide literacy packages to be shared in the classrooms.
- Provide teachers with a package containing resources to assist the continual education of the students at their school.
Future workshops will be incorporated into the school extra-curricular activity program for primary school children for years 3, 4 and 5 boys and girls. Workshops will include mentoring, role models, life skills and hygiene components.JSF aims to assist the community to eliminate gender disparity in primary education and increase the number of girls moving into secondary education.
Our Project Principles
Jump Start Foundation works in partnership with communities to improve equality in education for children and adults. JSF strongly believes that when a community owns a project, through its involvement at every stage of an enterprise, it will respect, care for, and do everything in its power to ensure the continued success of the venture.
In the past JSF worked with the community to support and sponsor girls in sport, travel and education who would not otherwise have access to these opportunities. The cooperation between JSF and Isangel College (IC) was highlighted by:
- The selection of IC for participation in the project was based on advice from Tourism Vanuatu. IC met the criteria for participation set up by JSF: a school in one of the outer islands; a school committed to sport; a school without the finances to send their students to important sporting events such as the Vanuatu Island Relay.
- The eligibility of all girls to participate in months of training to be selected for participation in the relay team. Girls who do not qualify to run in the IC/JSF team gain the benefits of the training, understanding of commitment, discipline and team spirit.
- Fund raising by the school and parents to provide the girls with running shoes and spending money for their three-day experience in Vila.
- The school selected the eleven girl team members. The school, parents and community were very proud of their participation in this event due to the girls’ exemplary behaviour, team spirit and good results.
In the future JSF believes funds used to support and sponsor girls in sport and travel, while successful in the past, can be better directed more effectively, and comprehensively to provide opportunities for young women, who would not otherwise have access to these opportunities, to achieve personal development, confidence and leadership skills. JSF will work with ICPS and other schools through face to face discussions with community stakeholders including teachers, parents and students including:
- Use of school premises to conduct gender equality workshops.
- The most effective means of including primary school boys and girls in equality workshops.
- The most beneficial means of holding workshops for senior school girls.
- Inclusion of ni-Vanuatu speakers to help girls with personal development, health and employment opportunities.
Community ‘participation’ in this development project has been apparent at every stage of its cycle and will continue to be in the future.
Improved literacy and gender equality in education will increase generational education levels. Women will be empowered to participate in the social, political and economic life of the community improving their circumstance through productive, practical, constructive and positive practices. Empowering women has been shown as way to instigate change.
For sustainability of the program it is crucial that we invest time, energy and money in training, continual education and remuneration of appropriate people to organise, manage, monitor, evaluate and encourage equal participation in education:
- Show the community ways to fundraise so they are financially investing in the education of their children. Equal educational opportunities for girls and boys are an integral part of the community’s long-term goal for improving community out comes.
- Stakeholder volunteers (teachers, parents, students) will learn how they can actively be involved in the education of students.
- Female students expand their knowledge to pursue their personal development, increasing their confidence and leadership skills.
- The provision of empowerment workshops at the school, given by ni-Vanuatu women, will provide a learning experience for all female students.
Projects must operate in an equitable manner. This is particularly important to ensure equitable distribution of opportunities and benefits within the community. We have fulfilled this principal by:
- Everyone, men and women has had a voice in the decisions regarding this project – not just those who spoke the loudest.
- This project is inclusive. It does not discriminate between races, religions, cultures or political persuasions. There is no bias or favour toward one group or community.
Historical and powerful beliefs about men and women’s roles in the community means that it is more difficult to have an exit strategy from this project. JSF is very aware that communities were unwilling to raise money for a girls’ sport team. However, the community is open to us providing the empowerment workshops for the girls, but would not provide funds for this themselves. We are currently working through ways to gently change these priorities. We are planning for an expansion of workshops into ICPS with an inclusion of boys and girls. Future workshops will be incorporated into the school extra-curricular activity program for primary school children for years 3, 4 and 5 boys and girls. We remain very careful and respectful of the community’s beliefs.
Change will most likely be evolutionary.