Throughout my six years as a high school teacher, I have met some girls who totally kick butt. They inspire me, motivate me, and teach me. Many of my relationships with these girls have extended past the classroom and I celebrate with them when they get into their dream college, mourn with them when they lose a friend too soon, roll my eyes when I see them kissing their boyfriends in the hallway. They are smart and hard working and I am so grateful to know them. These are girls who stay up until 3 am working on a writing project, girls who do soccer and a part time job while maintaining a 4.0 grade average, girls who compete against their boyfriend for valedictorian. I am proud of these girls and when they tell me that they want to be doctors, engineers, or computer programmers my heart swells. Of course they can be those things. (Of course my heart swells even bigger when they tell me they want to be teachers. The world will always need fantastic women educators.)
I'm passionate about educating women. I didn't know this about myself until I became a teacher. It suddenly became clear to me that some doors don't open as easily for women as they do for men. And that seemed pretty messed up. Some doors don't open at all for women in developing countries.
One of my favorite reads regarding women's education is I am Malala. If you haven't read it, you need to pronto. Here's Malala on the cover on Time magazine (She is a teenage girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban while defending her right to receive an education.)
And here's what Malala says about education:
"Education is our basic right... God wants us to have knowledge. He wants us to know why the sky is blue and about oceans and stars. I know it's a big struggle- around the world there are fifty-seven million children who are not in primary school, thiry-two million of the girls. Sadly, my own country, Pakistan, is one of the worst places: 5.1 million children don't even go to primary school even though in our Constitution it says every child has that right. We have almost fifty million illiterate adults, two thirds of whom are women, like my own mother."
DID YOU KNOW...
- Keeping girls out of school sentences them to a life of poverty and poor health
- Women earn 10-20% more for every year of school completed
- Children of educated mothers are 2x as likely to go to school
- Children born to literate moms are 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5.
- This year 31 million primary school aged girls are out of school worldwide.
- 1/3 of girls in developing countries are married before the age of 18
- 2.7 million Syrian children have been forced to leave school because of the war there.
I know for me I often feel overwhelmed by things like this- I feel so helpless but I ache for these girls. That's why I was thrilled to hear about CARE.org. CARE helps millions of girls get an education every year by removing the barriers: no money for school uniforms, girls needing to stay home to help their family earn an income, girls marrying and having children leaving no time for education. CARE works with parents, community leaders and governments to empower girls and their families to help themselves through education. Click here to look through CARE’s Gifts of Lasting Change catalog... these back-to-school gifts for friends support girls’ education across the globe. You can also read about the stories of many girls in developing countries here. We are so fortunate to have the education that we do here, and through CARE we can easily help a bright, ambitious girl in the developing world reach her potential.