It’s just another Saturday night (Sunday morning technically, I know) and I’m chilling on the couch. B is playing his video games and I’m browsing my friend’s blogs. Nothing new or different. Until I click over to Stereo’s blog and read her post about Girl Effect. And I’m reminded again that none of us live in isolation.
I’m one of those lucky girls. I was born to a middle class family in the US. I was home schooled. I went to college and grad school. After, I worked for a non-profit organization that was modeled on El Sistema and built to use music to help youth escape poverty. I remember standing around with some of my students, all girls between 11 and 13. One of them asked how old I was, and playing their game I asked how old they thought I was. The answers ranged from 18 to 31, when I told them I was 24, they all responded with varying degrees of: you’re my Mom’s age, you’re older than my Mom, how many children do you have, why don’t you have children. They couldn’t comprehend someone getting through highschool without a child. These girls all lived in Texas. And still, they’re lucky too.
The goal of our program was to keep them in school and use music as a family source to keep them away from gangs. Research has shown that girls staying in school benefits them and their future families.
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.
(United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990.)
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.
(George Psacharopoulos and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update,” Policy Research Working Paper 2881[Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002].)
When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
(Chris Fortson, “Women’s Rights Vital for Developing World,” Yale News Daily 2003.)
My girls were lucky to be in a developed country. They live in the US, so they have better odds. Better chances. They aren’t sold into early marriages. Their level of exposure to AIDS is less. Their educational opportunities are greater.
But they still needed help, motivation, a cause, a shoulder, support, and most importantly love. Even from a white girl raised in a foreign manner.
Awareness starts the ball rolling. Once we know there’s a problem, we can fix it. So now? You’re aware. You can join us in spreading the awareness. You can join us in finding steps to take to fight this battle.
We each of us can be the change that we want to see in the world. One girl, boy, man, and woman, at a time. Let’s join our voices and be the change.