Every year a girl stays in school can increase in her future income by 10 percent, and when women earn more, they are more likely than men to spend the money on food, health, family and education. But there are many obstacles to overcome in keeping girls in school.
In the Kwabre East District of the Ashanti region, teenage pregnancy is a leading cause of girls dropping out. But Nancy Boakyewaa, a determined 16-year-old mother, is defying the trend, proving that even the most vulnerable adolescent girl can, with the right support, begin to feel safe again, recover her appetite for learning and unite her community behind her.
Born on June 14, 1999, Nancy is the seventh of 10 children of Comfort Boakye, a farmer, and Joseph Boakye, the Roman Catholic catechist in the community.
In August, after dating a young man in her community, Nancy gave birth to a baby girl, whom she named Josephine Maame Abena Boakye. We first met Nancy in July at the Krobo District Assembly Junior High School Girls’ Club, where, under a program supported by WomenStrong International, we were counselling teenage and expectant mothers about their future. After intense counselling sessions with Nancy and her mother, Nancy agreed to go back to school after giving birth, if her mother would look after baby Josephine.
Now in Grade 7, Nancy is excited to be back in school. “It feels as though I never left because everyone makes me feel good about being back,” she says.
Support comes from everyone. Her mother brings the baby to school, and her teachers give her time in between classes to breastfeed. Women’s Health to Wealth provides some financial support to Nancy and her mother for the baby and for school supplies, and her classmates have also been very supportive.
Nancy sees herself becoming a nurse in the future. Of staying in school, she says,
“I am doing this first for myself, for my little girl and for your organisation that gives hope to people like me. I want to further my education to improve upon my life and secure my baby’s future. I also want to support my family in the future.”
Thanks to the timely, far-sighted intervention by WHW, Nancy’s dream has a better shot at actually becoming her reality, thereby improving her and her family’s chances of leading fruitful, more fulfilling lives freed of extreme hardship.