Tag Archives: children

The Girl Effect – Blogging Together!

This post is part of the 2011 Girl Effect Blogging Campaign.

Girls all over the world today face major challenges that prevent them from being educated, becoming financially independent, and receiving proper health care. The Girl Effect is a new movement “driven by girl champions around the globe” that seeks to combat these challenges. The Girl Effect is based on the idea that girls are the “world’s greatest untapped solution to poverty,” and that investing in girls creates a ripple effect that can change the world and improve conditions for both men and women in communities everywhere.

Why girls? Well, today more than 600 million girls live in the developing world, and approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.* That’s a problem, and we know that lack of education continues the cycle of poverty and makes a girl more vulnerable to disease and poor health. However, research shows that given the right resources and opportunity, these very same girls can help themselves, their families, and their economy. Improving the lives of those 600 millions girls will undeniably impact millions more in a positive way.

What exactly those of us in the developed world can do to help is up for discussion. I think talking about the challenges that girls face is an important first step. Blogging campaigns like this one allows lots of people to write about their feelings on the issues. Twitter and Facebook are also wonderful tools to spread the message  quickly and let people know what kinds of problems girls all over the world face.

One of the most frightening challenges that girls in both the developing world and right here in the US (see: Warren Jeffs and the FLDS) face is child marriage and child prostitution. Early marriage means early pregnancy which means no more education, and it very much prevents her from establishing herself as an independent force in her community, earning her own money, and achieving any goals she may have.

Education seems to be one of the strongest tools to prevent child marriage, pregnancy and poverty and should, in my opinion, be the focus of our efforts. Not only building schools, but following up and making sure that girls are actually going to school is one way we can invest. Supporting social businesses like AFRIpads – which sells locally manufactured, low-cost, reusable menstrual pads to girls in Uganda – is another small gesture that can actually make a huge difference. Think about it: girls without proper menstrual products stay home from school during their periods. That’s one week a month. That’s TWELVE weeks a year. That’s a lot of school missed. Give a girl menstrual pads that are cheap, effective and reusable and you just improved her chance of getting an education!

One of the best things we can do for girls is ensure that they have opportunities to create a future of their own, and that starts with going to school. What are some other ways we can make sure girls are getting educated? Let me know in the comments section!

In the end, helping girls in developing countries is all of our concern, because as the movement’s website points out, the Girl Effect is about girls and boys and moms and dads and villages and towns and countries. And the ripple effect starts with all of us.  
Get involved in this campaign and write a post of your own this week!  Go here to see other Girl Effect posts and add your own.

*Population Reference Bureau, DataFinder database, http://www.prb.org/datafinder.aspx [accessed December 20, 2007], Cynthia B. Lloyd, ed., Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries [Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2005].

For more facts, check out The Girl Effect website!

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J. Crew is trying to make your kids transgendered

Be afraid. Be very afraid. J. Crew is trying to turn your kids transgendered.

So here’s the deal. J. Crew recently put out an online ad called Saturday with Jenna, featuring Jenna Lyons,  the company’s president and creative director. The innocent 4-page ad basically shows some of her favorite things about the weekend – weekend looks, how she relaxes, etc. The ad also features a picture of Jenna with her (beautiful) young son Beckett whose toes are painted neon pink. It’s a sweet picture that captures the love and silliness between a mother and child.  Jenna says, “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

Cue conservative outrage.

Erin R. Brown of the Culture and Media Institute, a non-profit that promotes “traditional” (i.e. conservative) values in media, has responded to the J. Crew ad, attacking the company for featuring “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.” I’m sorry, what? No, seriously. Is this a joke? Blatant propaganda? First of all, claiming that this ad is “transgender propaganda” (whatever that means…) is the strangest thing I’ve ever heard, and second, if our children actually are transgendered, we should be celebrating them. Because all children are innocent and beautiful and should be celebrated. They still teach that in church, don’t they? So if this child is in fact transgender then we should celebrate him. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this child isn’t transgender, isn’t concerned with his gender identity, and is just enjoying a carefree Saturday with Mom. But who am I to walk all over Republicans conspiracy theories?

Here is a response from Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, a “non-profit organization that defends the GLBT community against anti-gay misinformation campaigns through media advocacy and university outreach.” He astutely points out the absurdity of the accusation that certain colors, clothing styles, and even certain “gendered” activities can make you gay/bisexual/transgendered/etc.

The spreading of hatred and bigotry in this country is truly frightening. What is happening here? While I’m all for searching for sociological meaning in popular culture, including clothing advertisements (anybody remember these ads for Bennetton?), I’m really disturbed and sick of conservative Americans trying to point out some liberal agenda in everything. I mean, this argument is simply ridiculous. Painting a boy’s toe nails is going to influence his gender/sexual identity? Does that mean that all male swimmers who shave their legs are also at risk of becoming transgendered or gay? Maybe the Republican party should lay into the Olympic Committee.

Come on. It’s 2011.

Here are links to a few more articles/blog posts on this “controversy.”

ABC: J. Crew Ad With Boy’s Pink Toenails Creates Stir

MSNBC Blog – Today Moms: J. Crew Ad Stirs Up Controversy With Pink Nail Polish

XXfactor: Surprise! Fox News Says No Pink Toenails for Boys

HuffPost Media: A New Low for Fox News

Enjoy.

Edit: Check out Jon Stewart’s reaction on the Daily Show:

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