Girls in the leadership club

Ranked by the Human Development Index as one of the 11 most underdeveloped countries in the world, 80 per cent of people in rural areas of Zambia live in poverty.

Women in these rural areas are not allowed to own or inherit property and land, which increases their poverty.

Girls’ right to an education is undermined by Zambia’s tradition of early and forced marriage as well as discrimination and violence in school. Women and girls are also vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, HIV and early pregnancy.

  • Women hold just 11 per cent of seats in parliament and only 85 of over 1,000 local government positions (Inter-Parliamentary Union 2015).
  • One woman in 37 will die during childbirth – one of the highest rates in the world (UNICEF 2013).
  • Only 38 per cent of girls are educated beyond primary school (The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics).
  • 17 per cent of Zambian women have experienced sexual violence and almost half have experienced physical violence (UN Women 2011-12).
  • 8.5 per cent of Zambian girls are married before they’re 15 and 41 per cent are by the age of 18 (UNICEF 2013).        

Supporting girls to become leaders

Women in Zambia must be supported to have an equal say in decisions that affect their lives and lead change in their communities.

We are working with our local partner Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL) to promote leadership in girls so that they can go on to participate at ever level of society.

With our support, they are:

  • Running programmes in 30 schools in rural Zambia, training girls in leadership skills and women’s rights. This is challenging attitudes and behaviour in and out of school that discriminate against women and girls
  • Offering counselling in schools to girls, providing emotional support and helping build their confidence       
  • Supporting female pupils to set up Girls’ Leadership Clubs in schools. These provide a space for them to share information on topics such as gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health.
“Before joining my school’s Girls’ Leadership Club in 10th grade, I lacked confidence and was not able to speak in public. But I learned that l had to become assertive and express myself fully and convincingly. I am now able to walk with my head up and articulate myself as an assertive and empowered young woman. I am able to make my own decisions and take care of my siblings.” Mwenya, who graduated from school with a distinction and is a student at the University of Zambia

Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL)

  • Africa
  • Zambia
The aim of Zambia National Women's Lobby (ZNWL) is to increase women's participation and representation in all kinds of government. They work on this in order to create a culture ...
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Helping women access sexual health services and earn money

Women’s education and health in Zambia can be protected by building their confidence and leadership skills and challenging social and cultural norms.

We supported Woman for Change (WFC) in rural Zambia to do just that by:

  • Training community leaders in women’s sexual and reproductive health rights and encouraging them to become peer educators, sharing what they learn with their wider community
  • Supporting communities to alter traditions and cultural practices which violate women’s rights by training birth attendants and traditional leaders
  • Helping women to take up leadership roles in their communities and campaigning with them for the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act (2011) to be put into action
  • Setting up village-led Safe Motherhood Action Groups to increase women’s access to health services, preventing more women dying in childbirth
  • Helping women to feed their families and make a living through land, crops and livestock.
“People are very happy to learn that chasing a pregnant girl from her parents’ home to the man responsible for her pregnancy and forcing them to get married is not good. Even when a girl is pregnant, she should be supported to go back to school after delivery. We realise that forcing pregnant girls into forced marriages has led some girls into committing suicide and others have died while trying to abort.” Female leader from Nkomeshya Chieft, trained by WFC peer educators

Our impact in Zambia

Thanks to our partnership with women’s organisations in Zambia:

  • 43 schools in rural Zambia appoint all their prefects from Girls’ Leadership Clubs, and several have selected group members to sit on school boards.
  • Over 5,000 secondary school girls have had life skills and leadership training and psychosocial counselling.
  • 800 women and men, including traditional birth attendants and religious and traditional leaders, have learned about women’s sexual and reproductive health rights from their peers, challenging social and cultural norms.
  • Members of 800 women-led community groups across rural Zambia have better access to land, crops and livestock.
  • Over 5,000 Zambian girls know their rights and are tackling violence against women in their schools.

Find out more about our impact

Help us do more

£65 can pay for one young woman to attend a youth parliament session to build her leadership and communication skills and confidence.

£250 can provide a girl with leadership training from inspirational women in her community, so she can then help raise women’s rights issues in her school.

£300 can pay for a teacher who supervises Girls’ Leadership Clubs to train to become a psychosocial counsellor.