Founded in 1999, the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development is a Somalia-based nonprofit organization devoted to strengthening women’s rights through education, literacy and empowerment. In a country where less than a quarter of girls attend school, GECPD has helped push attendance in certain regions to over 40 percent, with upwards of 4,500 women and girls directly enrolled in GECPD’s educational and vocational programs. In addition, the organization trains and supports a corps of women teachers, whose presence in the classroom is crucial in encouraging families to send their girls to school.
Of particular importance to GECPD are the widespread practices of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage. Attempts to raise awareness around these issues have made GECPD the target of sometimes-violent opposition, but have also found increasing acceptance as notions of women’s rights take root in Somalia.
A 2018 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network supported a girls’ empowerment program through sports for fifty girls at GECPD’s women and girls center in Harfo. The center focuses on female education, empowerment, and ending female genital mutilation. The program ran for three months and taught the participants various life skills and community mobilization skills. The goal of the program was that the girls would take up leading roles in advocating for changes in social norms, practices, and attitudes on female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices among their peers. The funds were mainly used to secure the required sports material and equipment for the program, provide transportation to the venue for the girls, and provide energizing refreshments during the sessions involving physical activity.
A 2017 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network helped empower girls to become anti-FGM advocates within their communities. Girls involved in the program not only receive an academic education but also learn about the health risks of FGM and their human rights. The program teaches leadership and communication skills, enabling participants to become change makers and advocates within their communities.
A 2013 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network, highlighting trafficking and FGM issues, supported GECPD’s general operations. A 2014 grant provided continuing support for capacity building and general operations. Donor Direct Action served as fiscal sponsor for both grants.