For many girls in Kibera, Kenya, the largest urban slum in Africa, informal schooling is the only education option available. But unlicensed local classes are often rife with sexual exploitation and untrained teachers who prey on students. In 2003, activist Jane Anyango, now 46, responded to this ongoing issue by creating a class of her own. She began giving presentations instructing girls on how to reject their teachers’ sexual advances while encouraging them to take back control of both their bodies and their educations.
This initiative grew into the Polycom Development Project (polycomgirls.org), an organization that now reaches thousands of girls and addresses issues of women’s safety, sanitation, and economic growth. Anyango says at the core of Polycom is the concept of “G-Pende,” or “love yourself.” “When you love yourself, you take good care of yourself. You make good decisions as far as your body is concerned,” she says. “My girls are my strength.”
BY RACHEL WITHERS
This article originally appeared in the June/July 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!