Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Girl Effect is the Future

Some facts:

-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.

-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.

-Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.

So what is the Girl Effect, exactly? Well, it's an internet movement to increase awareness about the things we can do to better the conditions for girls world wide. The Girl Effect leads activists, school groups, friends, and individuals to opportunities to educate their communities, donate directly to girls in developing countries, and educate themselves.

I'm writing this as part of the 2011 Girl Effect Blogging Campaign. I can't remember exactly when I first became aware of the Girl Effect, but it was at least a year ago because I do remember spending one afternoon downloading all of their materials and weeping on my bed while I was studying abroad. One of the things I really like about the Girl Effect is that it offers really sobering statistics (like the few I included above), but they also know that those things can be avoided. There is statistical proof that when girls can afford to go to school, they marry later. They're more likely to marry a man who treats them right. They're less likely to contract AIDS. And their children are more likely to go to school as well.

It's now been over a year since I read Half the Sky (and when I get a spare moment I'm going to read that sucker again), but the Girl Effect is really clued into what Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are talking about: when you can put a face to the oppression, people react. Watching the video about Addis is really affecting, as it should be, since we're humans and we have empathy. And it should be a call to action. Addis divorced her husband and returned to school, but for more girls to do the same we need worldwide action. We need the Girl Effect.

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