With and For Girls (WFG) is an awards initiative that, over time, will donate over $1 million to programs that represent girls across the globe. As part of this program, WFG selects a group of 21 people to act as panelists in selecting which programs to allot funds to. This is where 2012-2013 Tanzanian alumna (hosted by YFU in Greenbelt, Maryland) Doreen Malavanu comes in.

After an application process and a series of phone and Skype interviews, Doreen was selected as one of the 21 panelists. As part of the selection group for Sub-Saharan Africa, Doreen got to listen to proposals from 10 finalists. Of those 10, Doreen and the group chose four finalists to receive funds.

The four finalists were Rock Girl, which creates safe spaces for girls in dangerous neighborhoods; Pastoralist Girls Initiative, which works to increase independence for rural girls; Nyanza Initiative for Girls, which gives teenage mothers access to education; and Association de Défense de Droits des Aides Ménagéres et Domestiques, which works to promote rights for domestic workers. Of these organizations, Doreen was especially impressed by the work of the Pastoralist Girls Initiative

After the recipients were selected, they were invited to an awards ceremony in London along with all the panelists. This provided an atmosphere where all the impactful ideas of girls empowering girls could collide. Doreen said,

“It made me realize that the fight for girl’s rights is universal, and as a girl who was privileged to get a lot of education and opportunity, I should be more involved In the process of helping other girls to do the same.”

In the future Doreen hopes to use all the knowledge she gained as a panelist to help girls in her own right.

“From my experience with the WFG panel I learned a lot of things about girl’s rights, and I would surely feel guilty if I just sat on all that information. I plan to conduct girl empowerment and inspiration sessions in schools. For better and more sustainable results of the sessions I was also hoping to create girl clubs. Places where they can share experiences and help each other.”

The global impact of the With and For Girls Program is enormous. The YES program is so fortunate to play a role in the selection and helping girls across the world grow.

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