July 12th marks Malala Day. The day is named after Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education.

Malala Day was established to remind us each year that women and girls still lack basic rights to education. We spoke to two young women participating in our Study Squad program in Werribee, about their experience with education and what it means to them. Than dar Pru (Dar), Year 11 – Wyndham Central College and Betty Tegegne, Year 11 – Tarneit Senior College.

How did you become involved with Study Squad?

Dar: I was involved in Study Squad because I heard about it through Huddle Holidays, when I did the sailing day.

Betty: My first Huddle program was the MasterChef cooking [during Huddle Holidays] and I was involved in Study Squad through learning to sail day.

Why is a good education important to you?

Dar: Because education can change your life, if women are well educated, we can become an independent woman. We don’t need to depend on anyone, not partners, not family.

Betty: It helps us become good citizens and get a better paid job. Education shows us the importance of hard work and at the same time help us grow, develop and be able to shape a good society to live in.

How has Study Squad helped you with your education?

Dar: When I come here it makes me study and I don’t waste my time like I may do at home. It’s a good environment to learn and study.

Betty: It really helps me with math and interpersonal skills and to be confident. The Huddle has ensured the stability, progress and long-term development of our skills.

Why do you think education for girls and women in particular is so important?

Dar: There is a gender gap, and often women didn’t get as much education, but now we have the opportunity to change the world when we have access to education

Betty: They are able to protect themselves and their families. If women become educated and earn for themselves then they don't have to depend on their family for anything. This builds their confidence and allows them to make decisions on their own.

An African Proverb says, “Educate a boy, and you’re educating an individual. Educate a girl and you are educating an entire community.” What does this quote mean to you?

Dar: Educating a woman, can change the community, and change the structure of society. It can change the roles in a family, women can educate their children, and it flows on throughout the community. Women understand how important education is, it can change gender roles and change the future.

Betty: When you educate a girl, they are more likely to educate their children and society. Because the woman performs the role of wife, partner, organiser, administrator, director, creator, economist, mother, disciplinarian, teacher, health officer, artist and queen in the family at the same time.