New Street Child appeal urges UK public to help give girls in West Africa the chance to fulfil their potential

18th April 2016: UK charity Street Child launches its Girls Speak Out Appeal today, aimed at helping to ensure that girls gain their right to an education in Sierra Leone and Liberia; public support for the appeal has the chance to go twice as far thanks to a pledge by the UK government to double all donations to the appeal.

In October 2015 Street Child started a conversation with 2000 girls across Sierra Leone to find out why so many of them were not being given the chance to stay in school. The charity’s Girls Speak Out Appeal has been created from those conversations to help ensure that girls’ voices are heard and that the issues they raise are tackled.

The overwhelming barrier to education raised by the girls we spoke to was poverty, an issue heightened by the recent Ebola crisis, particularly where children have been orphaned by the virus - but other barriers featured heavily, including: teen pregnancy, early marriage or child labour, a lack of social support, and bad teaching practice.

Girls Speak Out hopes to raise at least £1 million between 18th April and 17th July to help ensure that girls benefit from: improved standards in the classroom through gender-sensitive teacher training and class refurbishments; improved chances of meeting the cost of education by offering girls’ families a grant and business training to create a more secure household income; and increased access to social workers, particularly for children going through difficult experiences, such as the loss of a parent. Overall, the appeal hopes to help 20,000 children gain the opportunity to stay in school and access a quality education.

Justine Greening, International Development Secretary, commented: “The worst of the Ebola crisis may be behind us, but countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia continue to feel its impact. The epidemic closed schools and forced children out of education. Many are yet to return.

“By doubling donations to Street Child’s ‘Girls Speak Out’ appeal we will help as many as 20,000 children, mainly vulnerable girls, return to and stay in school and get access to essentials they’ve asked for, like desks, books and trained teachers.”

Tom Dannatt, Street Child’s CEO, commented: “I’m delighted to announce the launch of our Girls Speak Out appeal, which marks a potentially huge step forwards for the education of adolescent girls in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  And, with the UK government doubling donations to our appeal, we can do twice as much.

“As the region begins its recovery from the recent Ebola crisis, it is our hope that the UK public will really get behind what has emerged as one of the most pressing issues facing the development of Sierra Leone and Liberia. Every year that a girl remains in education helps significantly improve her future earnings. This in turn results in better family planning and healthier children who are more likely to remain in education themselves, meaning that the entire nation will benefit from what we can achieve together.”

For more information on Street Child’s Girls Speak Out appeal, please visit: