Since you’ve found your way to Mommy Outside there is a good chance that you are a parent. And, as a parent, our biggest and most important goal in life is raising healthy, educated and empowered children. That job is two fold. Of course we do it because we want to see them be successful in their own lives but we also have the responsibility of raising a generation of people that want to change the world.
I am the mother of a three year old daughter. She is bright, healthy and, compared to millions of other girls around the world, privileged. There is no question that she will attend school when she is old enough. She may one day get married when and to whom she desires. She lives in a society where girls and women are not demoralized simply because of their gender. I am thankful each and every day that my daughter will not have to fight every step of the way because she is a girl.
Unfortunately, there are millions of parents around the world who cannot say the same thing. And there are millions of girls who do have a momentous fight ahead of them. And we cannot let them do it alone. There are a lot of barriers that girls face in the developing world:
- There are approximately 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty right now and 70% of them are women and girls;
- 66 million girls do no attend primary or secondary school;
- 1 in 7 girls are married by the age of 15;
- Half the girls in developing countries are mothers by the age of 18;
- Girls are 3 times more likely to be malnourished than boys.
I think those are some pretty sober and startling facts. Facts that most of us probably don’t think about every day. But if you are a girl or a parent of a girl in a developing country I would imagine it’s a stark reality that would be impossible not to think about.
But it is time we think about it. I know that we all worry about our kid’s future. Of course we do. And I think we need to also worry about what kind of world they are living in and what we can do to make that world a better place. To give other kids a fighting chance at achieving the same things we’d like for our own.
How can we do that? It’s a huge job but there are people out there who are committed to helping. Because I am a Girl, founded by Plan International, is a wonderful initiative that is working hard to change the future of girls around the world.
Because I am a Girl is a global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls – and everyone around them – out of poverty.
The Because I am a Girl initiative aims to support 4 million girls around the word in getting the education, skills and support necessary to move out of poverty and into opportunity. They work with girls, the communities they live in, governments and leaders and the private sector to help ensure that:
- Child marriage is abolished;
- Girls are able to complete at least nine years of quality education and help them transition into secondary education;
- That violence based on gender is put to a stop in and around schools;
- Funding for girl’s education be increased and made a priority by world leaders;
- Boys and girls are both able to participate in decision making and are inspired to make change.
Those are some pretty lofty goals. But they are goals that should be important to each and every one of us. And the good news is that working towards these goals brings about some pretty remarkable change:
- For every year a girl is able to stay in secondary school her eventual wage increases 15 to 25% AND 90% of it is reinvested into her family (compared to 30-40% in men);
- When a girl in a developing country receives seven years of education she marries four years later;
- There is a 20% increase in child survival rates when household income is in the mother’s hands.
How can we get involved in the Because I am a Girl Initiative? There are lots of ways! You can donate, fundraise, buy Because I am a Girl t-shirts and get involved by spreading the word. A great place to start is be celebrating and spreading the message about International Day of the Girl on October 11th.
After a successful campaign led by Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative and thanks to your help, the United Nations has declared an International Day of the Girl Child! This day will create a foundation to advocate and recognize girls’ rights globally.
International Day of the Girl provides a great opportunity to highlight the needs and rights of girls and to advocate for greater action and investment to enable girls to reach their full potential. So be sure to mark October 11th on your calendar and start talking about it now!
Because I am a Girl is an initiative that really speaks to me. As a woman, as someone who believes that we all need to be catalyst for change and, maybe most importantly as a mother to a daughter. I’ve written before about the importance my husband and I place on teaching our daughter about caring for others and understanding that there are people (and especially kids) that don’t have the things that she has. We go out of our way to teach this lesson. It may be simple things like giving to the foodbank or a little more involved like sponsoring another three year old girl in a developing country but each and every one of them are valuable.
My dream for my daughter is that she grow up to be educated, informed and empowered. That she uses those traits and skills to live the life that she desires and deserves and that she never forgets that there will always be other girls who need women like her to be their champion.
To read more about Because I am a Girl be sure to stop by their website to find out more about the initiative and ways that you can get involved. And join me, and thousands of others, as we spread the word and celebrate International Day of the Girl on October 11th.
Visit www.becauseiamagirl.ca to learn how you can make a difference.