Girl Rising and Why We Should Educate Girls

On December 19, 2011 the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11th as the International Day of the Girl. The Day of the Girl recognizes girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face across the globe. The number one initiative of the UN is to encourage education of girls in every country, especially developing nations where most girls don’t make it past primary school if they are even allowed to go to school in the first place.

Last Friday night I was invited to attend the free showing of Girl Rising at the State Theater in Portland. Girl Rising is a film chronicling the inspiring stories of nine girls around the world who are seeking education to escape poverty, indentured slavery, and childhood marriage to create a better life for themselves, their families, and their future. The film is narrated by a world-class group of actors and actresses including Anne Harthaway, Kerry Washington, and Liam Nelson among others.

The film sends a powerful and truthful message that educating girls across the world will change the world. Around the world, girls face many more barriers than boys.

  • There are over 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school across the globe
  • If India enrolled only 1% more girls in secondary school, its GDP would rise by $5.5 billion
  • A girl with an extra year of education can earn up to 20% more as an adult
  • 14 million girls under the age of 18 will be married this year. That is equivalent to 13 girls every 30 seconds.
  • The number one cause of death for girls age 15-18 is childbirth.

For more facts see: Girl Rising

I’ve always been a very strong proponent of education, especially education for girls. As a public health professional I understand the need for education on a global scale to reduce disease and increase health and longevity. Education can bring countries out of poverty and decrease the birth rate in countries where the population is exploding. Educating girls can reduce the HIV/AIDS rates in countries where 1 in 4 people are HIV-positive. Unfortunately, some countries such as Afghanistan, see educating girls as threatening. With education comes power. The power to change the world.

I attended an all-girls high school in Portland by choice. By 8th grade I was done with my public school system. I was bored and wasn’t being challenged. My parents said I could go to McAuley. It was by far the best decision I have made thus far in my life. Not only were the academics rigorous, but I learned a lot about myself and learned to believe in my potential. We were taught that the sky is the limit and we are the makers of our own futures. Recently, a good friend of mine from high school shared a quote from Kerry Washington on Facebook. I have a total girl-crush on Kerry Washington and absolutely loved her quote because it is so true!

I was really lucky because I went to an all-girl school and that single sex education really helped me because I really learned to bond with women and to not compete with or compare myself as much because we were all allowed to be ourselves and be unique and kind of have our unique strengths. But I always felt like my value was much more in my intellect than it was in my appearance, and so that’s what I spent time cultivating. And some of that I get from my mother, some of that comes from the schools that I went to, and some of that comes from probably insecurity. This feeling that my value is what’s on the inside, because what’s on the outside can’t really compete with other people, so I’ll place my focus there. Which I think has been a blessing for me. Because I’m not stupid. ~ Kerry Washington

I believe in girl’s education and so should you. Educating girls can change the world for the better. I HIGHLY suggest seeing Girl Rising and/or getting involved in the movement.

~ Happy Training!

 

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