Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Four girls yearn to become South Sudan's first female motor mechanics! Wow!

Nura Koleji rubs her toe in the ochre dust, hugs her knees to her stomach, and keeps her eyes firmly downcast – until we hit on the one topic she is bubbling to talk about. It is not how she fled her village of Lanya when AK47-wielding soldiers arrived from the north during the Sudanese civil war. Nor how they kidnapped her brother to train him as a child soldier; how she watched as they picked out victims and shot them; or how her two uncles were among those butchered in front of her.

It is not even the topic I am here to speak to her about – why she decided to train as a mechanic. What really riles Nura is men's dominance in the workplace. Last week South Sudan, became an independent country following a 22-year war that ended in 2005. And in this brand new country, women such as Nura are keen to see changes.


Though 87% of Southern Sudanese women are illiterate, Nura and her classmates can read. While they live with their parents, the majority of girls in South Sudan girls are married off at 13. "Parents value the dowry more than their girls' education and freedom," says English teacher Emelda Elizulai Melling. And with the average dowry around 200 cows (vast numbers of the population earn less than £97 a year and the cheapest cow costs £280), it is not hard to understand why.

Even menstruation is a challenge. "When a girl has her period, she does not attend classes because she doesn't have the appropriate facilities," says Angelina Alel Habib, spokeswoman for Plan International in Southern Sudan. Luckily for Nura and her classmates, their teacher spends part of her wage on sanitary towels for the girls. Full story...

Don't miss:
  1. My name is Hana and I live in Nigeria...
  2. Women's Day in Liberia...
  3. Nora Naraghi, Iran's female motocross champion!!!
  4. Meet Sintayehu Tishale, Ethiopia's armless carpenter!!!
  5. Liz Murray: From homeless to Harvard...
  6. Meet the world's youngest headmaster, 16-year-old Babar Ali from India! 

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