“I would tell the girls of the world, whatever you do, even if it’s small, you will see a brighter future. I would tell big companies and big people, if they could help a poor person like me, that person can do good in the world.”
I grew up in a strong family in an upper-middle class town in suburban Connecticut. Girls there competed in academics, sports, the arts – we were taught to fight for the brightest future we could dream for ourselves. We were taught to respect our minds, our bodies, and what we had to give back to the world at large.
I also went to college with strong, fascinating women who have dedicated their lives to their varying fields, to creating safe and prosperous homes for their own families, and to contributing to the communities they choose to live in.
Not that I don’t have incredible male role models in my life as well, but in my generation I’ve noted an incredibly passionate energy in women, specifically, who use their own success to educate and lift up others.
For the past few years I’ve kept my eyes on micro-loan programs that empower women to receive an education and open their own businesses, increasing the income of their families and communities by putting other women to work in their various fields. By and large these programs see incredible results – loans are paid back directly and reinvested in others in their community. The resounding effect is that neighboring women are educated in how to independently earn and invest their income, and the community as a whole sees a point of prosperous growth rather than generational stagnation.
According to The Girl Effect, women receive less than 2 cents of every dollar of aid relief given. In cultures where women have no political voice and live solely reliant on their male relatives – especially when they’re illiterate and completely unaware of their rights – it often only takes one woman to start providing for herself to open the floodgate for other women to do the same.
Shumi is one such young woman. She resisted pressure in her native Bangladesh to marry and opened a salon, employing other women and building her business independently. In turn, she heads the local girls’ center, teaching that small steps can make a huge impact.
By supporting organizations such as The Girl Effect – Global Giving, we can provide basic means of survival that snowball into helping communities climb out of poverty:
Giving access to identification papers – a simple thing that many girls lack – means that child-labor and marriage laws can be questioned when needed. Educating a girl to read makes her infinitely more likely to be able to work and understand her political rights and protections, especially those guarding her from unwanted marriage and pregnancy.
Educating a girl on the transmittal of HIV gives her the ability to avoid contracting it. And as girls are statistically more likely to reinvest their aid money and income into their communities, they deserve to be given more than 2 cents of their dollar in aid relief.
This post is part of a yearly global blogging campaign to spread the word about The Girl Effect. Please watch a few of the videos below, and head to The Girl Effect to learn more and find out how you can give your support. If you’re a blogger yourself, check out Wise Living to find out how you can join in the campaign.