Cal Poly graduate fights for gender equality in Africa

A Cal Poly graduate who joined the Peace Corps and went to Senegal has become a key player in an effort to improve gender equality in the West African nation. Marquel Sheree Ramirez, who graduated from Cal Poly in 2007 with a degree in modern languages and literature, is an environmental education volunteer in Senegal.

However, she also has become national coordinator for SeneGAD, a group that began in the 1980s to take on gender equality as a secondary project and now works to "put gender and development in the forefront," Ramirez wrote in an email to The Tribune.

The group’s mission, she wrote, is "to empower Senegalese women, men and youth to effectively integrate gender equality into their daily lives, with the support of Peace Corps volunteers."

Peace Corps Senegal is about to celebrate 20 years of supporting girls’ education through the Michele Sylvester Scholarship, which was set up in 1993 and provides financial support to girls whose families cannot continue to pay for annual registration fees and school supplies.

The scholarship provides $180 for secondary schools each of which chooses nine candidates.

Each receives $10 toward school registration fees, "which is often enough to cover an entire year’s tuition," Ramirez wrote.

For the 2012-2013 school year, Peace Corps volunteers will support 450 girls in 50 schools.

To learn more, go to www.pcsenegal.org/pages/180-senegad.