A Girl’s Right to Power

Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army. ~Edward Everett

Girls are powerful.

I should know I come from a family of strong, powerful women. Take my sass, boldness and snarkiness- multiply by 18 gazillion and viola- you have my grandmother! A woman that has outlived 2 husbands and a few boyfriends and probably has the best FICO score of anyone in the western world. Put us all in a room together and we are scary! We will suck all of the oxygen right out. My grandma is the TRUTH and she never lets you forget it.

She also married at 14. She then proceeded to raise 6 children essentially by herself-she is the original alpha female. She worked in a factory for a lot of years. She accomplished a lot in her lifetime,( including buying a home and helping her grand kids attend college) except one thing. My grandma dropped out of elementary school- It’s her one big regret in life.

She regrets it because she could have finished school.

Rural Alabama 73 years ago was a hard place. Child marriages and their impact is a discussion for another day. My grandmother has always told me that knowldege is power. If that is true than too many girls globally are losing their power.

There are millions of young girls all around the world that cannot attend school and its heartbreaking when you think of all of that untapped energy and potential. A conservative estimate shows 75 million children who should be in primary school are not, and at least 55 percent of those – nearly 41 million children – are girls.

41 million girls who should be in school are not.

This is not a whim, something that happens by chance. Girls around the world face a systematic denial of their right to education. In addition to the loss of opportunity for each individual child, denying education to girls corresponds to lower family incomes, higher maternal and child mortality.

Education is the route to power. An educated girl is more likely to earn greater income, raise a smaller family, have healthier children, participate in political processes, and send her own children to school. An educated girl also is less likely to become infected with HIV. Girls truly have the power to change the world, and girls’ education provides perhaps the single highest return on investment in the developing world.

The Facts:

  •  Tens of millions of children are not in primary school;approximately two-thirds are girls.
  • Girls’ achievement rates are usually lower than boys’rates; girls are more likely to drop out of school.
  • The majority of children out of school are from excluded groups such as ethnic minorities, isolated clans,linguistic minorities and very poor households, eventhough these groups represent only 20 percent of the world’s population.

There are many reasons why girls  do not attend school:

  • Families in developing countries often rely on their daughters to be caregivers, homemakers and laborers. When an 8 year old is needed to bring in income then her learning to read becomes a luxury.
  • Girls may not be safe or secure at school, and families fear for their welfare.
  • Poor families struggle to prioritize their meager resources to pay for books, uniforms, supplies and school fees.
  • Civil conflicts, natural disasters and chronic diseases like HIV & AIDS force families to shift their focus from learning to more urgent, basic needs like food and shelter.
  •  Young mothers stay home and care for their children instead of going to school.

Source: Center for Global Development

Learning empowers. Learning attacks poverty at its roots. Educated people can make thoughtful and informed decisions that will positively affect their lives, their families, their communities and their world.  Basic education is an essential foundation for economic growth and development – women and vulnerable groups who fulfill their right to learn are linked to greater  political participation, and improved social equality- in a word POWER. 

If a girl can read and write it reduces the odds that she will be taken advantage of or cheated. Out of the 770 million people in the world who are illiterate, two-thirds are women. In India, less that 50% of adult women are literate and in Niger, only 15% can read.  Read that sentence again. 15% can read.  In an increasingly information-driven world economy, literacy rates  are both a national concern as well as an individual one.

The young Nepali girl shown in the picture with this post looks like she can rule the world. As a matter of fact she CAN rule the world. She is strong, and powerful, bold and beautiful. She will be a leader in her community and her country one day. She has a right to learn, she is kickin’ ass and taking names.  She is unstoppable and her future has no limits.  She has a right to power.

There are 41 million other girls that deserve the same.


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