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!