The Girl Effect

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.

For example:

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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  1. Posted October 4, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    We approached the question of the girl effect from a similar angle: that of our own privilege. I, too, was told I could be everything I wanted… and the statistics on the Girl Effect fact sheet put that childhood in a harrowing perspective.

  2. Posted October 4, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    It’s easy to forget how incredibly privileged we are. And what a fabulous video – off to check out the site.

  3. Trish
    Posted October 4, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Thank you for promoting this. So richly written and something that we can change and the right intent and commitment. Can you put this on facebook and I’ll post on my profile page??


  4. Posted October 4, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    The stats are so humbling. Cringe-worthy. Maddening. Posts like this one are important because they help us remember. Remember to give thanks and to reach out.


  5. Posted October 4, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Yunus, a pioneer of microcredit ( favored women who turned out to be much more responsible and thus likely to pay their micro-loans back… and thus help build his initial few thousand dollar investment into a multi-billion dollar, world/consciousness changing endeavor.

    As we progress, it may serve us to champion not just girls but the feminine principle (connection, empathy, family) and realize that the masculine principle (competition, aggression, isolation, endless counting and measuring, black and white thinking) may be more commonly expressed by males, but is really a left brain thing more than a genital thing.

    The rise of the girl, hopefully, is the rise of compassion, interconnection, and relatedness, not just between humans, but between humans and the rest of that song of our true Self: Nature.

  6. Posted October 5, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I was asked to post a girleffect blog and I couldn’t find “my” story to go with it. You’ve done an exceptional job. I knew you would. Thank you! Thank you!