BRAVE 5K supports girls’ education in South Africa

 The BRAVE Girls Leadership teams up with H20 For Life to host a 5K around E.O. Smith High School track Sunday afternoon to raise awareness of the increasing water crisis the world is facing. Over 2.5 billion people lack access to proper sanitation resources, according to BRAVE. (Nicholas Hampton/The Daily Campus)

The BRAVE Girls Leadership teams up with H20 For Life to host a 5K around E.O. Smith High School track Sunday afternoon to raise awareness of the increasing water crisis the world is facing. Over 2.5 billion people lack access to proper sanitation resources, according to BRAVE. (Nicholas Hampton/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s BRAVE Girls Leadership chapter braved the sudden change in weather on Sunday afternoon and put on a 5K Walk for Water at the E. O. Smith High School track. The 5K’s mission was to raise funds and awareness for problems more complex than even New England weather patterns: the global water crisis and girls’ education.

UConn’s BRAVE Girls Leadership is a chapter of a larger non-profit organization of the same name that focuses on female self-empowerment through education, leadership opportunities and service. They also dedicate their efforts towards raising money and awareness for girls’ education, both locally and globally.

Throughout the spring semester, BRAVE has been raising money through H2O for Life to indirectly benefit girls’ education in Erasmus Creche, a tribal community in South Africa.

H2O for Life is an organization dedicated to raising awareness for the global water crisis and to providing “funds for a water, sanitation, and hygiene education project for a partner school in the developing world,” according to their website.

While the correlation between the global water crisis and girls’ education may not be obvious at first, girls’ education is more impacted by water than boys’ education is, Heather Allstrom, President of BRAVE and fourth semester molecular and cellular biology and human development and family studies double major, explained.

“The water crisis and the water insecurity affects girls first and causes girls to get out of school more so than boys and so that in turn affects girls’ education and enables them to get more discriminated against in different terms,” Allstrom said.

The water crisis is not just an environmental or political problem, but a social and educational problem as well, according to Ashley Stephens, Vice President of BRAVE and fourth-semester human development and family studies major.

“Girls, usually, are the ones who go to fetch water and they on average walk three miles every day to get water for their families. Also, because of the unsanitary toilets and unequal access to water, when girls get their periods, they usually have to stay home and miss out on educational opportunities that boys won’t miss out on,” Stephens said.

Raising awareness for the complex social ramifications of the water crisis and its disproportionate impact on girls’ education in developing countries is one of BRAVE’s main goals throughout this semester.

But they aren’t just interested in motivating more people to be more conscious of their water consumption, they are also raising money to finance specific goals which will directly impact individual lives in Erasmus Creche.

“Our goal is to raise $1,500,” Stephens said. “The money that we raise will go towards getting a rain catchment tank for them to get access to clean water, a pipe to connect that tank to the local school so that they can have it for their lunch program and to give them a hygiene education program so that they can learn about clean water and the best ways to use it and be healthy.”

While their efforts may seem small within the context of gender inequality, education in developing countries and the global water crisis, BRAVE members would like to urge people to remember that, like the river that created the Grand Canyon, small persistent actions can have large impacts with time.


Alex Taylor is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexis.taylor@uconn.edu.