I just received the newsletter from Her Honor Mentoring, a wonderful organization that I support. With their permission, I am re-printing here a short essay on the power of girls to help move and change the world. (Color emphasis is mine). Her Honor does this amazing work right in our backyard in Westchester County but that doesn't prevent them from thinking globally. Here it is:
The current unrest in Northern Africa has us thinking, now more than ever, that a meaningful revolution will require a true investment in girls. "Half the Sky - Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn brought this issue to our attention and now Time magazine has echoed these sentiments in their article; "To Fight Poverty . . . Invest in Girls". Here is an excerpt:
"There are countless reasons rescuing girls is the right thing to do. It's also the smart thing to do. Consider the virtuous circle: An extra year of primary school boosts girls' eventual wages by 10% to 20%. An extra year of secondary school adds 15% to 25%. Girls who stay in school for seven or more years typically marry four years later and have two fewer children than girls who drop out. Fewer dependents per worker allows for greater economic growth. And the World Food Programme has found that when girls and women earn income, they reinvest 90% of it in their families. They buy books, medicine, bed nets. For men, that figure is more like 30% to 40%. "Investment in girls' education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world," Larry Summers wrote when he was chief economist at the World Bank. Of such cycles are real revolutions born.
The benefits are so obvious, you have to wonder why we haven't paid attention. Less than 2¢ of every development dollar goes to girls — and that is a victory compared with a few years ago, when it was more like half a cent. Roughly 9 of 10 youth programs are aimed at boys. One reason for this is that when it comes to lifting up girls, we don't know as much about how to do it. We have to start by listening to girls, which much of the world is not culturally disposed to do. Development experts say the solutions need to be holistic, providing access to safe spaces, schools and health clinics with programs designed specifically for girls' needs. Success depends on infrastructure, on making fuel and water more available so girls don't have to spend as many as 15 hours a day fetching them. It requires enlisting whole communities — mothers, fathers, teachers, religious leaders — in helping girls realize their potential instead of seeing them as dispensable or, worse, as prey."