Imagine the possibilities if all girls were educated: Today is International Day of the Girl

Today marks the first-ever International Day of the Girl, a day in which organizations and individuals around the world will collaborate to hold events and a global conversation in effort to raise awareness about the importance of educating girls.

Globally, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world and of that number, 77.6 million girls are currently not enrolled in either primary or secondary education. This is a huge problem which has significant repercussions on not only girls but the economy and well-being of society as a whole.

Photo of young girls in Pokhara, Nepal. Do these girls go to school? If so, for how long?

Organizations like 10 x 10 fully understand the power of girls and the way education can be used as a conduit to better not only their lives but society as a whole. 10 x 10 is a global action campaign dedicated to raising the value of a girl – in her home, community, nation and around the world.

Their mission is simple:  Educate Girls. Change the World.

“Around the world, millions of girls face barriers to education that boys do not. And yet, when you educate a girl, you can break cycles of poverty in just one generation.”

So why should we focus on girls and why should we care? Here are some startling facts about girls’ education:

  • Of 163 million illiterate youth in the world, more than half – 63 percent-are female.
  • Around the world, 250 million adolescent girls live in poverty.
  • Sixty-five low and middle income countries are losing approximately $92 billion per year by failing to educate girls to the same standards as boys.
  • One girl in seven in developing countries marries before age 15.

Despite these dire statistics, there is hope. There is an enormous, untapped opportunity because it has been proven that the payoffs of educating girls are considerable.  Just providing one extra year of primary school education can increase a girls’ future wages by 10 to 20 percent, and an extra year of secondary school can help boost wages by 15 to 25 percent.  Even when a mere 10 percent more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases on average by 3 percent. Keeping girls in school not only boosts their livelihoods and the future livelihoods of their families, it is proven to keep them from marrying early, having more children and to help them be more engaged in the day to day lives of their families. An educated girl will be a better providers for her children and will have more knowledge on critical issues such as nutrition, maternal care and deadly diseases like HIV-AIDS.  Furthermore, an educated mother is more likely to earn income for her family and when she does, she will reinvest 90 percent of it into her family, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent by her husband.

The ripple effect of educating one girl in a community is astounding. The math is simple and easy. So why aren’t more girls in school?

There are many cultural, religious and poverty-related barriers that keep girls out of school. For instance, in poor families oftentimes only the boys are sent to school and the girls are kept home to work. Rural girls will generally help out with cooking, cleaning, child-rearing and even manual labor.  If a poor family lives in a country in which you have to pay school fees, it even further deepens the problem. Boys will often be chosen to attend school rather than girls.  Other barriers that are easily solvable yet continue to keep girls out of school include access to adequate lavatories and such simple things as sanitary pads.

These barriers can be overcome as long as the world believes in the power of educating girls.

There are some very inspiring stories about girls and their will to learn. Let’s meet 9-year old Eulalia. To get her education, Eulalia must travel on motorcycle — with her siblings — from her home atop a mountain in a remote Andean village in Peru, to a CARE-supported school for the children of alpaca shepherds in the valley. Come along with Eulalia on her journey.

Educating girls is not just right, it’s smart. Let’s help break the cycle of poverty by giving more girls the opportunity to learn and make the world a better place. Help us spread the word on why it’s vital to educate girls with these simple steps.

  • Join us in a day-long social media event by sharing this post.
  • Use your voice on Twitter using the hashtags #BasicMath and #10x10act.
  • Click here to download “Girls + Education” attachment and make it your own by filling in the blank with what educating girls means to you. Tweet the photo from your handle with the has tag #BasicMath and tag @10x10act.

Photo of Nepalese children headed to school in rural Nepal.

On a personal level, I can’t imagine where I would be today or my daughter Sophia would be tomorrow without an education. Just because we are girls does not mean we do not have a burning desire to learn. A strong longing for knowledge, acceptance and equality. I know that my grandmother was one of the lucky girls in her time. She was one of the few women to ever go to University. I followed in her footsteps at University of Wisconsin where I fell in love with my passion for knowledge. I would never be here today writing and using my voice without the ability to read or write. Nor will my daughter reach her full potential as a productive world citizen if she doesn’t go to school either. Shouldn’t all girls have this opportunity to succeed in life and be the best that they can be? Isn’t it a basic human right?

My little girl….she just started Kindergarten in September. Imagine the possibilities ahead.

Imagine the possibilities if all girls were allowed education. Imagine what a world we’d have for all. 

This post was originally published today on World Mom’s Blog.