Girl Effect

When I decided to participate in the Girl Effect campaign, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write. There are so many issues that I could delve into and rant and rave about the injustice. But this is not my style. I wanted to focus on the girl power aspect of the girl effect.

As a mother of 2 boys living in Toronto, Canada, we are privledged  -wait that doesn’t sound right, its not about priveledge, its about human rights- we live in a counrty where our human rights are recognized and upheld.  When they are not, there are systems in place to help us.  I don’t want this to be about how “we” are so “lucky” and “poor” them. In fact if you watch the last video on this post you will see a major thing I like about the Girl Effect campaign is its positive focus on the potential for these girls to be a part of the change.  I felt myself cheering some of these girls on when I heard their stories.

I was once a young girl, and now a mother by choice.   I never had to deal with being forced to marry. I chose for myself. I always had the opportunity for an education and to chose my own career doing something I love. I chose to have children when I was ready, when I desired to, not when others told me I had to.  Seems simple doesn’t it?  But not so in many underdeveloped countries, where poverty determines ones’ choices like Kidan, the 13 year old girl in this video:

I’m not saying that everything is perfect for girls here. I don’t mean to ignore our own problems here such as child sexual abuse (against girls and boys), and teenage pregnancy to name a few.   Or what about how the media distorts and sexualizes young girls, pushing young girls to compare themselves with the images they are bombarded with on a daily basis. Many girls here struggle with eating disorders, depression or even suicide. I don’t want to down play these very important issues we have here in Canada.

The difference is, we can make a difference, we have the resources to help our children here.  This is not the case for those countries where poverty is so prevalent that people feel they have no other choice, but to marry their daughters early because they can’t afford them.  In underdeveloped countries that are war torn, have ongoing poverty  and hunger, these young girl’s rights becomes burried and blinders are put on to the cycle of poverty they sustain.  It is forgotten that in fact if girls aren’t forced to marry early, dropping out of school  and bearing children while they themselves are still children, they can pull themselves out of the poverty.

Forgotten that is, until it is highlighted, and there is a big enough spotlight put on these issues: (taken from http://www.girleffect.org/uploads/documents/1/Girl_Effect_Fact_Sheet.pdf )

  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. (United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990.)
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent.
  • An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.  (George Psacharopoulos and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update,” Policy Research Working Paper 2881[Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002].)
  • Research in developing countries has shown a consistent re- lationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers. (George T. Bicego and J. Ties Boerma, “Maternal Education and Child Survival: A Compara- tive Study of Survey Data from 17 Countries,” Social Science and Medicine 36 (9) [May 1993]: 1207–27.)
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 per- cent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man. (Chris Fortson, “Women’s Rights Vital for Developing World,” Yale News Daily 2003.)

This ripple effect of positive outcomes when girls get an education, can also go the other way; a ripple effect of negative outcomes: death by childbirth, contraction of HIV and continuing the cycle of poverty.

But let’s focus on the positive, let’s hold that vision of educated girls, rising out of poverty, changing their world, changing the world.  Help me spread the word about the Girl Effect and why it is so important.  We can be a part of the change.  The only way that can happen is if we spread the word about the hope for the future and the enormous power of the Girl Effect to change the world.

Watch how Anita did it:

 

So now I invite you to write your own Girl Effect blog posts – during the week of October 4-11. To read other Girl Effect blog posts and to find out how you can be involved click HERE  .

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