As a follow-up to Mountains Beyond Mountains, I’ve just started reading Nicholas Kristof’s and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, a book whose main premise is that the education and empowerment of girls and women is the key to combating poverty and extremism. And the introduction chapter is simply named: The Girl Effect.
Adolescent girls are uniquely capable of raising the standard of living in the developing world. It’s been shown: she will reinvest her income and knowledge back into her family and her community. As an educated mother, an active citizen, an ambitious entrepreneur or prepared employee, a girl will break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. That is the girl effect. Yet, despite her proven potential, she is more likely to be uneducated, a child bride, and exposed to HIV/AIDS. Less than two cents of every international development dollar is directed to her. (GirlEffect.org)
Kristof and WuDunn tell the stories of women around the world who have experienced forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality and morbidity. The point isn’t to shock, but to raise awareness and to be a call to action. And they’re not the only ones. GirlEffect.org has put together a moving campaign with the same intent, to improve the world by investing in the wellbeing of women and girls. Even if you think you’ve seen it all, I dare you to take a couple of minutes to view their video below.
If you’re anything life me, you might be asking, so now what?
Put your money where your mouth is. There are some great organizations out there doing amazing work on behalf of women and girls, and they could use your help. One of my favorite ways of giving during the holiday season is to seek out projects in need of financial support via GlobalGiving.org and make donations on behalf of friends and loved ones.
Take some action. Lobby your local and national leaders to take steps on behalf of women and girls in poverty. The people in power need to hear from you! Don’t know where to start? Sign up for CARE’s Action Network, and find out how you can advocate for change.