Celebrating Girls’ Empowerment
Today, all around the globe, organizations and communities celebrate International Day of the Girl. This international day of awareness was created by the United Nations to recognize the global gender disparity that still exists and to honor the movements increasing access to equal employment opportunities, quality education, and personal and political empowerment for women and girls. The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl is Unscripted and Unstoppable. We love that this highlights the grassroots leadership and fierce commitment of girls who are working to change their communities and turn the tide globally on gender justice.
Why It Matters
Girls’ Empowerment may start with empowering women – but it’s also foundational in building sustainable economies and increased opportunities for everyone. Experts predict that if women were able to participate fully in the job market, economies of entire countries would grow. Yet women continue to be under-represented in political leadership, and also represent a disproportionate amount of unpaid domestic work. According to the UN, 35% of women and girls worldwide ages 15-19 have also experienced some form of physical or sexual violence. It’s barriers like these that girls are up against daily as they fight for gender equity.
We believe that improving access to quality education for girls is one of the most effective ways to change the trajectory of their future. Access to education decreases the likelihood of girls marrying early and against their will and decreases poor health and infant mortality rates. Statistics even show that a girl’s wages will increase up to 20% for every year of secondary education she receives.
In the last few years, we’ve had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations like Sahar Education. Sahar empowers girls through their Early Marriage Prevention Program, which aims to reduce early marriage rates of girls in Afghanistan through educating girls on their legal rights, shifting attitudes on early marriage in their families and communities, and increasing ownership of the girl’s decision to pursue her education.
We believe programs like this empower girls with the tools, confidence building, and education they need to be unstoppable. Sixteen-year-old Shella shares that through her participation in the program, “I realized that as a woman I can be strong and capable. I am poor, but I am priceless. I should love myself. I am proud of being a woman. Being a woman is not shameful.” By participating in the program’s psychological health sessions, Shella was able to pursue a healthier and happier life.
Hamada is another strong young woman who continues to inspire us. Now in the 11th grade, she explains, “I was on the verge of getting married in my early years of life, which shouldn’t be the case, but after participating in this class I learned how to fight and overcome these challenges and [teach] my parents and family about the negative consequences of early marriage.” Hamada’s resilience has kept her in school, and is allowing her to focus on building a career that will impact her family and her community.
Powerful and unstoppable girls like Shella and Hamada inspire us daily to continue working towards empowerment for all– particularly girls that encounter situations of physical or sexual violence, or the pressure to marry young. Women’s empowerment is integral to global development, and access to quality education is key. Join us as we celebrate Girls’ Empowerment and continue working toward equality for all.
Learn more about and support our Girls’ Empowerment fund here.
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