Back in 2009, I was floored by an incredibly powerful video that perfectly communicated a belief I hold dear – girls are the key to peace, prosperity and stability in the world and the fragility of their position in society around the globe must be bolstered. Not much has changed in the intervening two years. Girls are still the key. The social, economic and political position of girls still needs to be strengthened significantly. And the Girl Effect is still incredibly powerful messaging.
As a white, middle-class, American girl, I grew up in privilege compared to the majority of girls in our world. Even so, I remember being told by an advisor that I should take statistics instead of calculus because “math is hard for girls.” I remember being questioned incessantly by the long-married girls my age in a Turkish town; they were highly suspicious of my intelligence for remaining unmarried and traveling by myself at 22. I remember the story my mother told me of how her highschool guidance counselor refused to submit her application to Stanford because attendance at a university like that would diminish her prospects for a good husband and happy life. I remember how the visiting Econ professor in college would only take questions from the raised hands belonging to men. I share these moments with you not to equate my condition with that of others but rather to connect the dots along of spectrum of experience, to form a thread of compassion and commitment. I have a privileged life. Girls everywhere deserve the same. And eventually, hopefully, being a girl – anywhere – won’t have any strings attached. The world will be that much more amazing for it.
I believe in the Girl Effect.
- 1 more year of primary school boosts a girl’s eventual wages 10-20%; a year of secondary school boosts it 15-25%.
- women reinvest 90% of their income into their families; men reinvest 30-40% of their income into their families.
- of the approximately 130 million youths not in school, 70% are girls.
- 1 in 7 girls in developing countries marries before age 15.
- 75% of those aged 15-24 living with HIV in Africa are girls.
These sobering statistics, and more, can be found at GirlEffect.org.