Consider the following statistics about girls in the developing world:
“One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18.”
“An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.”
“When women and girls earn income they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.”
And watch this video:
Today is the 2011 Girl Effect Blogging Campaign. What is The Girl Effect? From the website: “the unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.” This is an issue I’ve been thinking about and reading about a lot lately. The statistics and the stories are so depressing, but there’s hope, too. Girls who manage to get an education can really make a difference for themselves. And once they can gain economic power, they can ensure that their own children are healthy and well-educated. They can break the cycle of poverty.
So this is The Girl Effect. But what does it mean to me? I look at Adeline and I see a girl who will have every advantage. We’ll make sure she has the best primary and secondary education possible and her college fund is already growing. We’ll talk about current events and other issues with her and take her places where she can truly learn about the world. We will never push her to marry or have kids. We’ll let her make her own choices and we’ll support her, even when she, inevitably, makes mistakes. And of course, most importantly, we will love her. She is a lucky girl.
We have days when our life seems hard, when everything feels like a struggle. But, my god, how good we have it! I watch these videos and think about these girls and I literally cry. They’re born with nothing and they have to fight for every advantage they get. Thinking about it can be overwhelming – you start to feel powerless. The problem is just too big, what can you do? It’s true, of course, you’ll never solve the problem yourself. But that’s what’s great about The Girl Effect: we’re not trying to solve the problem, per se, we’re just trying to enable these girls to help themselves. I don’t want to sound like a commercial, but seriously: just help one girl. Donate to The Girl Effect. I also like Kiva because you can pick the specific woman (or man) that you give a loan to. And when the loan is paid back you can re-lend it to someone else. It’s microfinance and it’s awesome! Either way, do something. It doesn’t have to be big: give $25 if that’s all you can afford. It will make a difference.
So, ok. The title of this post is a little misleading. I’m not asking you to save the world, just to save one girl. The thing is, you might just save the world anyways. And that’s pretty cool, right?
This post was hard for me to write. I feel really strongly about this issue, but I have too much to say. It was all trying to get out and it got jumbled and backed up and nothing came out at all. My previous post on the general issue of women and poverty is much better: check it out. And read what other bloggers have written for the campaign here. And if you’re a blogger, write your own post! Info here.