On Tuesday 24th October guests gathered at the KPMG offices in London for what was an exciting dialogue on empowering the next generation of women in Africa. PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) collaborated with Women In Banking & Finance and KPMG to host a panel discussion on the challenges we face and the role that everyone can play in addressing them.

PEAS deliver life-changing education to over 16,000 children (52% of whom are girls) across 30 schools in Uganda and Zambia. They have landmark public private partnerships with the Ugandan and Zambian Governments, which allow PEAS’ schools to meet their own running costs, guaranteeing their long-term future and ending reliance on foreign aid. COINS Foundation’s partnership with PEAS began in 2009 supporting a number of their projects over the years, including our most recent development which involves installing solar panels into five more of their schools. The introduction of solar doesn’t just improve educational resources with access to computers and light, but it also provides an opportunity to generate further income by hiring out excess power.

The panel of three began with Dr Rachel Linn, a specialist in impact assessment, who has a PhD in International Politics and has worked in developing country contexts across Africa and the Middle East. Rachel leads PEAS’ mentoring and evaluation team, which looks after data and evidence across the organisation along with commissioning external research. Second on the panel was Minaho Shiraishi, a partner at KPMG who grew up in Indonesia and therefore has a broader context of growing up in a developing country. Minaho is also a partner sponsor of the KPMG Network of Women, promoting the retention of talented women and is passionate about supporting budding entrepreneurs. Finally, representing PEAS was their Head of Education was Olivia Hills. Olivia oversees the design and delivery of PEAS’ education programmes in Uganda and Zambia and supports PEAS’ government advocacy work.Facilitating the event is Claer Barrett, Personal Finance Editor at the Financial Times and editor of Personal Finance, with an aim of demystifying money matters to help readers make the most of their money for themselves, and their family.

Claer Barrett, Dr Rachel Linn, Olivia Hills & Minaho Shiraishi

The conversation started by outlining the key differences of growing up in Africa compared to here in the UK. It’s easy to take our education system for granted but for the majority of young women in Africa, secondary education isn’t an option. This can lead to a cycle of women not receiving full education, which limits the opportunity for females to get into senior positions and ultimately results in a lack of female role models for future generations.

Having covered the main problems and justified the importance of them, the panel moved on to talk about how the challenge can be addressed, outlining, PEAS’ current strategy to tackle it. Having access to quality but affordable secondary school was evidently of high importance but beyond school there is also further opportunity to encourage women into business and to assist them in achieving success. The discussion progressed to highlight that importance of ensuring that support, both financial and otherwise, is used appropriately and effectively so that maximum impact can be achieved and improvements can be identified.

An insightful evening on all accounts it was a fantastic opportunity for all parties to integrate their knowledge and experience whilst working together to achieve the same goal. We look forward to attending more of these events in the future.