10.10.2012

Educating a girl means creating community opportunities for all

When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a writer. I would spend my Saturdays at the public library, reading book after book, (some wholly inappropriate for a nine-year old), but devoured by me nonetheless. I wrote poetry, letters, kept journals. I thought of what my biography would say and what my photo would look like on the book jacket. Would I write mysteries or fantasy, or combine the two into a new genre? When I wasn't writing, something, anything, I was reading, something, anything. And not once did anyone tell me that I couldn't follow my dream just because I was a girl. 

I'm not a world famous author and you won't find me on the shelf at your local, independent book store. I stopped writing poetry when I graduated from college and these days my journals are filled with notes and thoughts from books or articles I've read. But it wasn't because any one ever told me that I couldn't be a writer. It was because I was encouraged to be anything I wanted to be that I most likely didn't become a writer. Because there were options. 

But girls in other countries don't have those options, much less encouragement to pursue an option if one was actually available. Girls in other countries can't sit in the back seat of a car after a long day at school, singing whatever is on the radio, utterly uninhibited. My daughter can. Girls in other countries don't have a place to do homework or any homework to actually do. My daughter can sit at the dining room table doing her math homework and when completed, asks for more. Girls in other countries may have dreams of being something more than a wife and a mother, but no one listens to their dreams. My daughter can lay next to me at night in a room of her own, telling me how when she grows up she wants to be an artist who lives in New York and owns lots of dogs. 

My daughter doesn't know that other girls don't have these dreams, this unlimited opportunity. 



But I do. And that's why I'm participating in the 10x10act International Day of the Girl "Tweet-a-thon" this Thursday, October 11. My hour is from 1pm until 2pm and I would love for you to join me then. But if you can't, there is an incredible group of advocates who will be participating starting at 9am and wrapping up at 9pm. Use the Hashtag #IDG2012. 



One day. One day for all the girl's of the world. 


Let's be the voice for those who have no voice. For those, like Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year old Pakistani advocating for girls to receive an education who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out.  Even my daughter in the car this morning when she heard this story started crying. She asked me why anyone would want to hurt someone just because they wanted to go to school. She went on to add "I love school because all my friends are there and we get to share ideas and learn how to read better." 

For my daughter, her #basicmath is about friendship and community. For me, it's about understanding that educating a girl means you can break a cycle of poverty. That an education means:

  • When 10 percent more girls go to school, a country's GDP increases on average by three percent (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • 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. (World Bank)
But it's just not economically advantageous, it's about better health (children born to educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past the age of 5) and about impacting a community in a truly transformative way. It's about community sustainability. 

No one should be told they can't do something just because of their gender or where they live. It's about empowering all of us to be able to live out a dream. It's about opportunity. It's about options. 

And it's about time. 







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