I am one of two girls. My sister and I grew up in a world where we knew – what absolute certainty – that we could grow up to do or be whatever we wanted. Careers I wanted to pursue at various times in my childhood: doctor, Marine, writer, Supreme Court justice, marathoner. The only thing that limited us was our ability to work towards something. We had access to great schools, dedicated teachers, and, probably most of all, parents who believed in us unconditionally.
In fact, the truth is I’ve never experienced my gender as something that held me back. I’ve never really experienced it as a factor at all. Different pros and cons, a particulate set of challenges to juggle? Sure. A problem, a liability, a burden? Never.
This isn’t so for many, many girls in the developing world. There is a host of sobering data at the The Girl Effect. All the complex issues are connected, in a tangled knot: education, healthcare, family planning, the global economy.
1/4 of girls in the developing world aren’t in school.
Yet when a girl in the developing world receives 7 or more years of education, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 children.
A direct link has been shown between higher levels of education among mothers and better infant and child health.
75% of 15-to-24 year olds living with HIV in Africa are girls.
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.
I wish I had a solution. I don’t. But I hope you will take the time to watch this video, think further about how immensely privileged we are in this country, and commit to helping however you can those who are less fortunate. Let’s also work as hard as we can to raise our daughters to know they can do and be anything they want. And to help their sisters in other countries who may need it.
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