Monday 22 April 2024

Noluthando Honono amplifies girls’ education in the Global South

By Joy Osiagwu

A voice like Noluthando Honono‘s, leading an inspirational speaking tour in the Global North about the plight of girls in the Global South, is a welcome development as the poster scholar for what a girl child can become. Honono, a postgraduate law student at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, rekindled a sense of hope in my heart, with the positive assurance that a brighter future is on the horizon concerning the current situation of girls in Africa as I listened with rapped attention to her talk at the Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) campaign tagged “Education: Her Right, Our Future.”.

Noluthando Honono speaking to participants at St Paul’s University, Ottawa

However, the opportunity to share her narrative was made possible by the Canadian Jesuits International advocacy drive, which is in its quest to honor education for all as a fundamental human right. Beyond this general pursuit, the organization engages in various awareness campaigns to ensure that children, especially girls in the Global South, have access to education. 

According to the United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization, statistics worldwide indicate that two hundred and fifty million children between the ages of six and eighteen are out of school, especially in the Global South, and a hundred and thirty million out of the number are girls as of 2023.

The “nose-diving” educational narrative about girls does not align with the vision of the CJI, which is interested in a world of peace, justice, and integrity of creation. In furtherance of its mission to work with people struggling for social justice and dignity, the non-governmental organization engaged with partners in the Global South even as they continue the advocacy drive in Canada to create awareness to support investment in girls’ education, which intersects with the fundamentals of sustainable development, especially as it concerns humanitarian crises.

A cross-section of students from High Schools in Canada at the Ottawa speaking tour.

Noluthando Honono, an activist for girls’ education and a contributor to initiatives of the Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar, is in Canada on a public speaking mission as part of the CJI’s Fall campaign on the right to education for the girl child. The campaign aims to create much-needed awareness and acknowledge the right to education as a vital component of success for humanity’s future.

Sanju K.C., a young lady under the guidance of the Nepal Jesuit Social Centre, a CJI partner, succinctly puts the situation in context: “If we don’t have an education, we are like blind people walking on the road… People think you should stop studying to get married. But it is my right to get an education.

Honono corroborated Sanju’s assertion as she spoke to a critical mass of audiences, including Students from High Schools and tertiary institutions in Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec, and Winnipeg. (Loyola High School, Concordia University, Montreal, Campion College, University of Regina, St. Paul’s High School, Winnipeg, All Saints Catholic High School Whitby, Notre Dame High School (Ottawa), St Pius X, Ottawa, Immaculata High School, Ottawa, Holy Trinity High School Ottawa, St Patrick High School, Ottawa, St Joseph, High School Ottawa, Mother Teresa High School Ottawa and Carleton University, Ottawa).

She focused on the barriers to girl child education due to historical and political structures created by colonialism. She said the adverse effects created racialized and gender lines, enabling conflicting identities that were hitherto non-existent in the African tradition. In her words, all these placed the “Black girl at the bottom of the chain.” However, she expressed optimism that the CJI campaign will have a sustainable impact. The insightful session had a thought-provoking question-and-answer session with participants.

A cross-section of participants during the Q and A session

The Executive Director of Canadian Jesuit International, Jenny Cafiso, believes that together in partnership with Non-governmental Organizations that work in rural areas, the outcome of the tour in Canada in collaboration with the Canadian government institutions would change the trajectory of girls in the Global South.

Executive Director of Canadian Jesuit International, Jenny Cafiso

Above all, Rev. Fr. Williams Tcheumtchoua, an advocate for the education of girls, supports the education of boys on the subject matter to broaden their knowledge about the essence of gender equality and dignity for humanity.  The CJI will leverage the spring speaking tour to pursue support for projects related to girls’ education.

Click the video link to hear more from Jenny Cafiso, Noluthando Honono, and Rev. Fr. Williams.