Being a girl shouldn’t be any more challenging than being a boy. We’ve been on this planet as long as boys have. We played just as much a role in ensuring the continuation of the human species. Yet to this day we’re still fighting for gender equality. In some nations, we’re still fighting for our lives! The scary thing is I don’t think we even realize just how hard some of us are fighting. It’s hard to know what girls in developing nations go through when you’re sitting in a warm home eating hot food and watching the latest new release on your comfy sofa.
Girls in developing nations face far more challenges that even I can imagine. Did you know that 66 million girls in the poorest countries never even get to step foot in a school? Think about that number for a moment. That is nearly double the population of Canada. Girls make up 70% of the world’s 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty.
Those who do make it to school are often faced with gender-based violence. Imagine if every time you sent your daughter off to school, you had to sit at home and worry about her being beaten, sexually assaulted, scarred by acid or even killed simply for her desire to learn. Then imagine that you couldn’t do a thing about it, other than just not send her to school.
Now that I have you imagining the worst scenarios, let’s switch gears to the positives of being a girl, and how helping girls around the world can really help the entire world as a whole.
- Boosting the economy: Did you know girls are more likely than boys to invest their earnings back into their families? An average of 90% of her income goes towards her family, where men average only 30-40% back into the household. Why does that matter? That money not only gets spent on household necessities, which boosts local economy, but it also helps better her children and future generations.
- Decrease in early marriages and multiple children. Women who receive at least seven years of schooling tend to marry later and have about two fewer children. It’s actually 2.2 fewer, but I never understood how we can have a fraction of a child. Why is this important? Think about it. The more mouths there are to feed in a nation that already has poverty and famine issues, the worse the overall environment of the nation becomes.
- Decrease in famine levels. Did you know that if girls had equal access to things like technology, land, education and financial services, it would mean up to 150 million less hungry people in the world?
- Increased survival rates. This one really surprised me. When the household finances are in the hands of the mother, child survival rates increase by a whopping 20%. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that moms tend to put more money back into the family.
Because I am a girl, I can lend my voice to other girls
What is the one major difference between us and the girls living in poor countries? We have a right to use our voices to stand up for others. Sounds simple, right? Well, in some countries, girls are killed for voicing an opinion. Even when they are allowed to speak up, their pleas fall on overwhelmed ears that are busy just trying to figure out how to keep their nation’s citizens from starving to death. When your government is focused on merely ensuring you live to see another day, they don’t have the resources to make sure you get a proper education.
Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl Initiative seeks to change the lives of girls all over the world. On October 11, they invite the world to celebrate International Day of the Girl . While every day should focus on bettering the lives of girls around the globe, on this day they need you more than ever to stand up and speak out for girls.
What can you do to help?
- Write letters to your government officials asking them to support initiatives to bring education to poorer nations.
- Tweet about the importance of educating girls using the hashtag #PlanCanadaGirl
- Share this post on your social media channels to help drive awareness.
- Teach your son about the importance of respecting girls.
- Teach your daughter that education shouldn’t be taken for granted, and that she should never let anyone or anything hold her back because she is a girl.
- Visit the Because I am a Girl site and get involved both financially or personally.
How will you raise your voice and help other girls on October 11?
Visit Because I am a Girl and find out how you can get involved in helping girls all over the world.