Today is International Women’s Day. South Sudan has been ranked the toughest country in the world for a girl to get an education (One Campaign), yet we know that girls’ education is proven to be the most effective intervention in addressing poverty reduction. Nagomoro Bridget, Founding Chair of Ibba Girls’ School and former County Commissioner, was the only girl in her village to continue education past the age of 10. She always dreamed of opening a girls’ school in Western Equatoria State in South Sudan. In 2011, she asked a team in the UK to help. We sat down with Bridget to find out more about her and her commitment to opening up education to girls in South Sudan.
When I was a child, my father believed that education was for all, both for boys and girls. My community and relatives were not in favour of educating girls though, only boys. Nobody but my father supported me with my education. Today, I foster education for the entire village. I am so proud that I have broken the circle of illiteracy in Ibba.
My dream was ultimately to improve the academic standard of my community and shed light amongst the darkness. To do this, I needed the financial help at a large scale to facilitate the human resource demand and the materials. I met Professor John Benington from the UK and persuaded him earnestly to support me. He agreed to help me with the implementation of my dream and to satisfy my hunger for girls’ education. It was soon after that Friends of Ibba Girls’ School was set up.
Working as a woman in government in South Sudan was challenging. I had to measure my intelligence, capacity and muscles with male counterparts to deliver services to the community and the State government. However, I loved it. It has strengthened me mentally and physically. It has helped me to become a competitive woman with men.
The most important piece of advice I would share with a young woman living in South Sudan is that women’s liberty lies at the heart of education. Acquiring knowledge through education liberates us from the agony of illiteracy, to deliver equal service with men and work shoulder-to-shoulder in developing our nation. This is the only way to fight intimidation and the marginalisation of women in society. The rights and efforts of every woman must be recognised at all levels. A woman’s intelligence will not be a source of benefit to others while she’s deprived of her rights. I tell the girls that they must always remember to leave their legacy behind for the next generation to learn from and to improve upon, since we pass in this world only once.