October 11 has been declared the “International Day of the Girl” and the launch of an international campaign called “Because I am A Girl” by the Plan, one of oldest and largest children’s development organizations in the world that works in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty.
The “Because I’m A Girl Campaign” was to draw the world’s attention to educating girls worldwide by getting supporters to “raise their hands” on October 11th. The goal is to collect 4 million actions (photos of hands raised, likes on their Facebook campaign page, etc) and present the collective actions to the United Nations Secretary General and the world donor community urging them to put girls’ education as their priority. There are also local events being organized in 70 countries around the world that will culminate in a global event in New York, which will be attended by UN Women executive director Michelle Bachelet, actress Marcia Cross, journalist Mariane Pearl and Plan-supported girl ambassadors from around the world, who will be sharing their experiences with policy makers. The Empire State Building and London Eye are among a number of landmarks that will be lit up bright pink to mark the occasion.
Why girls? Why is this all important? Globally, 1 in 3 girls around the world is denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, violence and discrimination. Every day, girls are taken out of school, married far too young, and subjected to violence in school. Not only is this unjust, it’s also a huge waste of potential with serious global consequences. Millions of girls are being denied an education right at a time when it has the power to transform their lives and the world around them. Making it through both primary and secondary education is critical to girls being able to help break the cycle of poverty.
Here’s some statistics about what happens when a girl who makes it through both high quality primary and secondary education is…
- …less likely to experience violence or marry and have children whilst she is still a child.
- …more likely to be literate, healthy and survive into adulthood, as are her children.
- …more likely to reinvest her income back into her family, community and country.
- …more likely to understand her rights and be a force for change.
I know this first hand because my family and I have been honored to support the college education of two young Cambodia women through the Sharing Foundation‘s education program. The photo above is Leng Sopharath. I raised money through my blog and later on Twitter to help send her to college from 2006-2010 through the Sharing Foundation’s program. Although we had been trading letters for two years, I met Sopharath face-to-face in 2007 and recorded this interview. She graduated from college and is married. She is working two jobs, one is at the Bamboo Indochine store at the airport.
The photo above is Keo Savon with me this summer in Cambodia. She is the second college student we are supporting through the Sharing Foundation’s program. (I’m donating the royalties from my new book, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, towards her education). College tuition in Cambodia compared to the US is not that much, for many young Cambodian women it is beyond their grasp. A college education for Keo Savon will change her life.
Won’t you raise your hand in support of girls around the world?