What we do

Building girls’ leadership

Adolescent girls are incredible change-makers in their communities – all they need is knowledge, solid support, and a safe place to be. That’s where our girls’ clubs come in.

Batonga Clubs are open to girls from 12 to 18 years old. They provide girls with a safe space to learn critical life skills and information ranging from reproductive health to financial literacy. Girls understand their rights, gain self-confidence, and can plan their own economic future.

Our clubs offer

  • safe spaces
  • community-based support
  • dedicated mentors
  • peer community.

Batonga clubs also house small businesses managed by the girls, to learn about finances, entrepreneurship and being economically independent.

 

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Engaging communities for change

In every area we’re in, we aim to bring the whole community with us. At the local level, we work with leaders and different stakeholders to transform harmful norms and beliefs around girls and equality. At the national level, we build and nurture practitioner communities to share evidence-based knowledge and promote innovation.

 

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Young Women’s Economic Empowerment

With access to finance, support in business growth and professional training opportunities, young women in rural communities can tackle their own economic futures. They can be full participants in local, national, and regional markets – creating opportunities for themselves and others. When young women can access dignified and sustained employment, the whole economy benefits.

Our Equal Economic Futures program builds

  • connection and networks to the business community
  • vocational training opportunities
  • support systems and solidarity networks.

Through our Young Women Business Circles, we are changing how communities and markets see, value, and engage young women entrepreneurs.

 

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What a difference a mentor makes

Mentoring is at the heart of our work and nothing that we do could be done without the Batonga mentors. As we survey and map villages, we recruit and train local women to mentor girls from their own communities, creating lasting solidarity and support systems. As well as advocating for the girls 24/7, mentors build girls’ social and economic skills in the clubs and through radio lessons, provide emotional support to girls and their families, and serve as role models.

Batonga mentors:

  • run the SONAFA Leadership Clubs
  • coordinate the Young Women Business Circles
  • conduct weekly home visits to the girls they are mentoring, engaging their parents and families on issues related to their well-being
  • act as advocates for the girls in their families, schools, and communities
  • manage the girl-led small businesses, as well as the governance and treasury structures of those affiliated to clubs.

 

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MEET SOME OF OUR MENTORS

MEET SOME OF OUR MENTORS

“I wanted to become a Batonga Mentor because I wanted to help the girls in my community avoid making the same mistakes as me and prevent them from falling into the many traps that lie on the path of adolescence. I have so much energy and determination to ensure the women and girls in my community grow up to feel safe, supported, and secure.”
Anicette, Batonga Mentor in Sodohome village, Bohicon (Benin)

“My name is Anasthasie. I am a former beneficiary of Batonga, currently mentor of the SONAFA program and I supervise 4 clubs with 58 members. What excites me the most as a Batonga mentor is the desire to give back to my young sisters the teachings and skills received from Batonga which have allowed me to reach the level I have today. I love teaching the girls in my clubs about puberty. I particularly enjoy teaching this lesson because I have observed that girls generally do not have access to this valuable information at home as the subject is considered a taboo topic in their households. I am free to provide them with as much information as possible so they do not fall into traps – as there are a lot of girls who get pregnant because of their ignorance about the subject of sexual and reproductive health.”
Anasthasie, Batonga Mentor (Bohicon Benin)

“My name is Madeleine, mentor in Azokangoudo, Savalou. I am in charge of two clubs with 64 girls. As a mentor, I have become a reference resource person in my village. The parents of the children I work with give me more consideration. Parents consider us to be guardians of their daughters as well.”
Madeline (Savalou)

“My name is Bernadette; I am an assistant mentor at Lotcho. I have 3 clubs of 41 girls. I really enjoy working with girls and young women. The teaching that I particularly like to give them is the planning and management of financial and material resources. This lesson is important to me because it allows for the correct use of money and resources. The business and practical activities carried out together in the clubs are highlights where the girls learn a lot of things they never learned, including the production of the articles and their marketing. When they have major difficulties socially or health, I bring my support in solving these problems and it pleases them and we celebrate our victories together.”
Bernadette (Bohicon)

Amplifying Voices

We, and the young women we work with, inspire others to take action through shared learning and advocacy.

We work in partnership to amplify African voices. We offer African gender equality advocates and champions access to decision-making spaces and processes.

Through targeted engagement and evidence-based thought leadership and advocacy, we influence global decision-making processes to ensure that policies, and programs reflect the needs and priorities of the most vulnerable African girls and young women.

Our “Nos Voix Comptent” initiative works to ensure francophone african women and girls are central to the Generation Equality Forum processes and outcomes. Check out the initiative’s website to learn more!

In 2021, Batonga will also launch “Conversations for Africa”, a virtual conversation space that will see African leaders and artists discuss the most pressing priorities for gender equality on the continent. Watch this space!

#NosVoixComptent (nosvoixcomptent.org)

 

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Arts for Gender Equality

The Batonga Foundation is at the beginning of an exciting journey to promote Arts as a key vector for change when it comes to reaching gender equality.

In Benin, Batonga uses theater and song in its work with adolescent girls, to both learn about their rights but also to raise awareness about important issues with members of their communities, like gender-based violence and COVID19 prevention awareness.

In 2021, we will be formally launching our Arts for Gender Equality portfolio to fasttrack gender equality progress on the African continent. Watch this space!

Our Impact

We measure our impact through both regular data collection and testimonies from mentors and program participants.
15
rural communities
3,610
adolescent girls & young women supported
55
Batonga Mentors
Impact on girls’ lives

Impact on girls’ lives

Our work increases the safety and wellbeing of girls and young women, mainly through raising awareness about their rights, how to keep safe, but also through improving their relationship with their parents and other community members. Access to a mentor has shown to help navigate difficult decisions and situations. And thanks to our work, girls have also increased personal hygiene, nutrition, and understanding of their sexual and reproductive health and rights

“Since becoming a mentor, I have observed several changes in my community. One of the key changes is linked to the decline in early marriage and unwanted pregnancies. With the lessons and skills Batonga provides, many young women now wait until they reach maturity before getting married”.
Gwladys, mentor in Akété Savalou

Girls also exhibit stronger capacities to discuss their needs and issues in front of adults and other community members. The skills and knowledge they gain allows them to self-advocate and engage in peer solidarity, challenging the status quo together and changing how others value them and their peers.

“Before Batonga, when I was at home, even just talking to my mum, I would hide my face, avoid eye contact and felt uncomfortable in my body. But since I joined Batonga, I’m not afraid to talk to people, especially those my age, and prove to them that I am a strong girl. My classmates have noticed that I am no longer naive as before, I am now more knowledgeable and enlightened.
Edith, Alikpa Village, Benin
Impact on young womens’ financial wellbeing

Impact on young womens’ financial wellbeing

Adolescent girls and young women gain strong financial literacy skills and concrete income-generating experience by the time they graduate from our clubs. They now run 183 micro-businesses, sharing profits, and building business strategies together.

1,629
young women engaged in income-generating activities through 50 young women business circles
2
Professional Training Centers (40 girls in current training programs)
Increasing womens’ leadership

Increasing womens’ leadership

Batonga mentors have built social capital in their own communities, and are now respected leaders and authorities on how to support girls, families, and resolve conflict. Their leadership is recognized by community members and they have gained legitimacy as local leaders.

Impact on community values and behaviors

Impact on community values and behaviors

Parents are better equipped to engage with their daughters and support them in making healthy decisions. Girls have seen their social status increase and feel more respected, while communities value their roles and contributions more.
Our impact in numbers

Our impact in numbers

Our impact in numbers

15
Communities in rural Benin
3,610
adolescent girls and young women aged 10 to 30 supported
55
Batonga Mentors
126
Leadership Clubs
34
10-11 year-old Clubs (1,014 girls)
33
12 – 16 year-old Clubs (967 adolescent girls)
59
17 – 18 year old Clubs (1,629 young women)
50
Young Women Business Circles
1,621
Home visits conducted in 15 villages last year (2019)
Covid response impact/data

Covid response impact/data

5
radio lessons broadcasted since April (one per week)

79%
average listen rate per week of radio broadcasts from SONAFA Leadership Club girls and young women

4,400
bars of soap have been produced and distributed by girls and their Mentors

160
protective face masks were produced by Batonga girls through our tailoring workshops

2
handwashing stations to be placed in the highest traffic locations in each of the 15 villages we support (30 total)

3,738
Approximate number of home visits conducted by Batonga Mentors since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Benin

173
Mini Clubs

2,068
adolescent girls participating in Mini Clubs

88.7%
average attendance rate in Mini Clubs

203
women’s rights organizations and activists participating in NVC

Impact Testimonials

More Impact Testimonials

More Impact Testimonials

“I come to Batonga because the teachings have helped me a lot. Before I didn’t know how to save money. But since Batonga came, the mentors have taught us how to save money. This allowed me to know when I have 100 CFA, I can use 50 CFA and save 50f for it to be beneficial in the future.”
Christine, Noellie club, Tovigomin
“There is a lesson that asks us what brings us here. And we all agreed that we are here to learn more and gain knowledge. My favorite lesson so far has been on critical thinking. I’ve learned that in order to avoid bad decisions, I must think deeply about the decision before I make it. For example, cutting a tree may seem like a good decision at first as it is just taking up space but thinking about it, it’s very bad to cut it down. If you let it grow, it will provide you shade and will allow you to rest when it’s hot.”
Ella, Noellie Club
“Observing my peers lead their clubs helped me remember that women can easily and capably hold positions of power”
Noelie, Batonga Mentor
“Batonga is an NGO that cares for girls. It gives girls the skills to become empowered and enterprising women. Today, thanks to Batonga, I know how to plan my expenses; before going to the market, I always determine my purchases in advance. Batonga taught me to prioritize my needs versus my wants. I was very shy but thanks to Batonga I can express myself freely in front of an audience, I can give my opinion in an assembly and be listened to. I urge parents who doubt or prevent girls from participating in clubs to let them come because these are good practices and skills that they receive to be independent and self-sufficient.”
Nathalie, Batonga Mentor
“What inspired me to be a mentor was that in my childhood and youth, I couldn’t find anyone to guide me. As a result I was easily influenced and it is in view of all this that I decided to be a guide for the teenage girls of my village so that they do not fall into the same traps as me.”
Marguérite, Batonga Mentor (Savalou)

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