Empowering Women: WONDER Foundation’s Whole-Person Approach to Education

Young girl receiving mentorship at the Baytree Centre for education and empowerment

The Essence of the Whole-Person Approach

A whole-person approach recognises that education is not a one-size-fits-all model but a process that addresses the diverse needs of everyone. The whole-person approach views people as individuals rather than just students in the education system, aiming to highlight the impact of social and cultural conditions on individual experiences of education.

The shift towards a whole-person approach challenges the traditional focus on academic achievement by connecting academics with personal values and enhancing individual skills, knowledge, and empowerment. This is particularly necessary in contexts where many girls are out of school.

The Realities of Women and Girls’ Education

With around 129 million girls around the world currently out of school women and girls are those who most commonly fall behind in education due to numerous barriers to enrolment and attendance. Addressing these obstacles is crucial to providing women and girls with an optimal environment to learn and flourish, such as spaces where they feel safe and are given the conditions to develop skills and complete their education.

The Whole-Person Approach: A Key Pillar to WONDER Foundation

As a key pillar to WONDER’s work, the whole-person approach ensures inclusive education tailored to the unique experiences of women and girls.

The Importance of a Whole-Person Approach in the Empowerment of Women and Girls

Recognising the essential role of education in women’s empowerment, the World Bank emphasises the importance of promoting women and girls’ access to education to end poverty and increase economic growth. The prevalence of trauma among women and girls creates significant barriers to their education and empowerment, highlighting the need for a holistic approach.

The whole-person approach has the potential to break down the barriers that often limit the educational experiences of women and girls as it challenges the boundaries between education and personal development, therefore empowering women and girls with skills and confidence. In a world with persistent gender inequalities, it is critical to support women in not only their education but in every aspect of their lives.

WONDER’s Commitment to a Trauma-Informed Approach

The trauma that many women and girls have experienced such as violence, poverty, assault, or the death of a family member, dramatically affects their ability to learn and develop as individuals. Therefore, a trauma-informed approach to both education and WONDER’s mentoring scheme is essential.

WONDER’s commitment to the whole-person approach is reflected in our projects’ focus on prioritising personalised support for women and girls, fostering a safe and empowering environment for their educational and personal growth.

How WONDER and Pontes Are Helping Ukrainian Refugees in Poland Through a Trauma-Informed Approach

WONDER’s local Polish partner, Pontes, has been working to support women and children displaced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Initially, WONDER and Pontes worked to ensure Ukrainian women and children had access to basic needs, including food and clothing. Now delivering long-term support, Pontes is helping Ukrainian families adapt to their new lives in Poland through Polish language support, mentoring, psychological assistance, and the provision of safe spaces. This partnership spreads across five Polish cities and has reached over 1000 families with a trauma-informed approach.

The Role of Mentoring in WONDER’s Whole-Person Approach

A key element to WONDER’s work is the individual support offered to women and girls through mentoring programmes.

WONDER’s Mentoring Project in Kenya: The Mwangaza Project

WONDER’s Mwangaza Project  in Kenya incorporates a mentoring programme aimed at supporting women in entrepreneurship to grow their own business. A holistic focus is provided through one-to-one mentoring, helping the women improve their confidence and sense of self. The Mwangaza Project has successfully resulted in 76% of women involved seeing financial growth within nine months.

Mentoring at the Baytree Centre in London

In London, the Baytree Centre has provided one-to-one mentoring for women and girls to improve their English language skills in an effort to address the exclusion they experience. Such support programmes are tailored to the needs of each individual. The aim is to guide and support women and girls through this journey and help them to develop a range of soft skills and improve their confidence. Through mentoring at the Baytree Centre, 79% of women have significantly improved their English skills thanks to this comprehensive approach.

Implementation of a Whole-Person Approach at WONDER

WONDER strive to incorporate a whole-person approach into projects and programmes with local partners, to provide women and girls with the support they need, centering safety, trust, collaboration, and choice. We prioritise individual needs and implement trauma-informed practices as our standard approach to empower vulnerable populations, ensuring our work remains positive and impactful across diverse contexts.

Author: Emily Gander

Corporate volunteering in London Team building

Corporate Volunteering at WONDER Foundation

WONDER Foundation hosts a variety of corporate volunteering days throughout the year, partnering with organisations and businesses that support our mission and goals.