Girl Heroes: Betty Roba - education groundbreaker

Ahead of World Democracy Day, meet the girl who proves that girls playing active roles in their communities is crucial for development

Around the world, girls' opinions are often the least heard. As a result, their unique needs are frequently overlooked.

Ahead of World Democracy Day, Betty Roba's story shows why that needs to change.

She grew up in South Sudan, where in 2006 it was estimated that only two per cent of girls had access to secondary education and as many as 94 per cent were illiterate - one of the highest rates of illiteracy in the world.

A long-running civil war had disrupted the country's education system and many girls and boys were unable to go to school.

Bridging the gender gaps

Since then, the experiences of girls such as Betty have become excellent case studies in what happens when girls do have the chance to go to school.

Betty was sponsored through secondary school by Africa ELI, which runs three separate sponsorship programmes for girls in South Sudan. Its aim is to "bridge gender gaps through education". 

She started her secondary education in 2008 and graduated in November 2011. After finishing her studies, she found work as a nursery school teacher. She now works with the young children from 8.30am until noon before travelling on foot to a daily teacher-training course - paid for with the income from her nursery teaching.

Thanks to her education, Betty is working towards becoming a fully qualified teacher and has money left over to help her family.

Her journey demonstrates that if girls are given the tools and support they need to stay in school and gain qualifications, they can join the labour market as adults and become financially independent - creating a ripple effect on the social and economic wellbeing of their families, communities and countries. 

Betty shows what happens when girls get the rights they deserve. Make sure all girls are given the same deal by supporting the Girl Declaration