Considering the Girl Effect

I tend to read a whole host of websites and blogs around the world on a wide range of topics: news, expat life, global issues, international development, writing, marketing,  business and more. I also operate in a number of social media venues.

Well, I woke up today and found tweets, messages and no fewer than four blogs talking about the Girl Effect.

What was going on?!

The one that really caught my attention was from John at ProductiveWriters.com.

It’s all part of a worldwide campaign to raise awareness and action to improve the quality of life of many by focusing on helping young girls.

It seems GirlEffect.org was created by the Nike Foundation to understand and leverage the ripple effect of investing in young girls throughout the world to help stimulate economic growth and improve health and wellbeing throughout their communities.

The focus on girls is deliberate. Not because they are anti-boy or anti-male, but because most girls grow up to become mothers, raise children and have a strong impact on their families’ current and future quality of life.

There are more than 600 million girls aged 10-24 in the world. In many places, they face a crossroads when they are still quite young: we’re talking pre- and early teens here.

Due to economic, cultural, social or religious pressures, they are diverted from their studies into early (and often forced) marriage. That’s if they even attended school to begin with.

An illiterate young girl forced into marriage is isolated; the doors to choice slam shut. The earlier a girl enters into marriage or a relationship, the earlier she is likely to give birth, with higher incidences of health problems and risks of HIV/AIDS for herself and her child. And the cycle begins.

What I like about the Girl Effect is that efforts are taking place all over the world, in developed countries as well as in the Third World.

The following video is a short but powerful reminder of the negative impacts the lack of education can have, not only on the lives of these young girls themselves, but also on their families and communities.

Did you know that a quarter of the girls in the developing world don’t attend any school at all? Yet if a girl finishes just seven years (seven!) of education, she is likely to marry four years later and have 2.2 fewer children than a girl receiving no formal education at all.

And for every year of primary school-level education, a girl is apt to earn at least 10-20% more in wages when she does begin working. That percentage grows considerably if the girl can get to secondary school.

If you’re interested in learning more, GirlEffect.org has developed this fact sheet and better still, this Global Investment and Action Agenda. And there’s a lot more information under their policy and media sections.

The bottom line is this: education, for boys AND girls, provides choices, and helps to strengthen not only the individuals, but the families and communities in which they live.

So go ahead. Be the pebble that starts the ripple effect.


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