Today is the International Day of the Girl, a call to action on behalf of our tender world. And I say world because when we educate our girls, the world benefits. Over 66 million girls are out of school today, simply because they are girls. They carry water and care for younger children, they forage through trash for metal, they work as "bonded" servants - little more than slaves, they are married very young, or worse. In fact, I learned last night that the leading cause of death of girls ages 15 - 19 in developing countries is childbirth/pregnancy complications. Yet we know that when we educate a girl, even one more year, she is full of benefit not only for herself, but also for the community and ultimately our highly connected and fragile world. "Providing girls one extra year of primary school education can increase future wages by 10 to 20 percent, and an extra year of secondary school increases future wages by 15 to 25 percent. Secondary school also offers a valuable opportunity for girls to learn healthy behaviors. In some countries, for example, AIDS spreads twice as fast among uneducated girls." Source: Educating Women and Girls, US Department of State (see previous link).
I watched the Girl Rising film last night. It's full of both nightmare and dream. It's a film made to move us to action, as it highlights girls who have chosen to continue toward an education despite their significant challenges. Like Suma (above), who lives in Nepal. This beautiful woman was once a small child who became a servant at an extremely young age. Her parents, destitute themselves, thought it would be a better life for her. But she suffered severely. Through the help of social workers, she was eventually removed from her role as a bonded servant and rejoined her family. Today, she is helping to do the same for other girls.
If you get the chance to see this film, please do. (Disclosure: I am proud that my employer is a sponsor!) The film is being dispersed in a non-traditional way....once enough people sign up to view it in a particular venue, it's brought there. There are also options for hosting home and organizational viewings.
So let's be grateful for the little girls in our lives - those we hold to us each day and those who need us to hold them in our hearts and actions.