Race to Benefit Senegalese Girls' Education

A West Michigan man says the empowerment of women in Senegal helps not only them, but benefits the environment as well.  

Andrew Oberstadt became an ally to women in that West African nation when he helped organize Race for Education, a run that will raise money for girls’ education in Senegal’s Tambacounda region.

He and Geoff Burmiester, both of Holland, organized the event with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers.

Oberstadt didn’t intend to take up the cause when he first moved to Senegal via the Peace Corps in 2010. He was more focused on issues such as environmental protection.

What Oberstadt didn’t realize was how keeping women in school could positively affect the environment, he said.

If women earn degrees, they begin careers. When they begin careers, many postpone marriage and pregnancy. When they can plan and space their pregnancies, they have fewer children. Overpopulation — a major issue for the African continent — wreaks havoc on the environment, as the demand for resources increases.

“I am now convinced that women’s empowerment and family planning are some of the best causes we can support to make a positive change in the world,” Oberstadt said in an email.