On the eve of International Women’s Day, I attended a sold out screening of the film, Girl Rising. The energy in the theater was thick with anticipation and empowerment. As the film began, a hush fell over the crowd. Embracing every second of this amazing film, I learned of 9 girls from 9 different countries- Afghanistan, Haiti, Peru, Nepal, India, Egypt, Cambodia, Ethiopia and the Sierra Leone. Each girl faced with different life challenges from child marriage to abandonment, from the lack of education to violence, and much more. The main theme throughout is the power of education and how so many girls, millions of them, lack educational opportunities.
My heart swelled with sadness and disappointment as each story comes to life. Feelings of hopelessness overwhelmed me and my faith in mankind began to dwindle- how could so many girls be denied their right to freedom, to education, to choosing for themselves? And slowly, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, each girl showed strength and a fierceness that will not die. Each girl overcame her obstacle and displayed grace, light and pride in doing so.
As a mother of a young baby, my view of the world has changed this past year. Issues such as free and available education to every day safety become a common part of my every day thinking. In the film, Wadley a bright 8 year old Haitian girl is troubled as her world is changed forever after the terrible earthquake in Port au Prince. An estimated 80% of schools in Port-au-Prince were damaged or destroyed during the earthquake. Prior to the earthquake, about 40% of children were unable to pay school fees. Only 60% of Haitian children have the opportunity to attend primary school and only 20% go to secondary school. About 50% of all Haitians are literate.
With constant drive and fearlessness, Wadley returns to the makeshift tent school house every day, even when turned away because her mother could not pay the school fees. “I will come back every day until I can stay” she proudly reports. To Wadley, education is the key to her success in life and developing mind. Eventually, she wins and the teacher allows her to stay. With my child always on my mind, I pondered “What would I do if education wasn’t free or available for my young child? Would I send him to the local school house every day to try to be accepted?” Absolutely!
Statistics for education among young girls in developing countries is staggering:
- Around 11 per cent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are classed as illiterate.
- Worldwide, around 776 million adults and young people over the age of 15 cannot read or write – just under two thirds of them female.
- Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
- Studies show that every year of schooling increasing a girl’s future earning power by 10 to 20 percent.
- Less than half a cent of every development dollar goes to programs specifically for girls, particularly those ages 10-14.
- Girls make up more than half of the world’s 143 million out-of-school youth.
- Girl Up, United Nations Foundation
What can you do to encourage the Wadley’s of the world to fight for their right to be educated? What can you to do lift up women and girls around the world? What can you do to encourage equal rights for all? Through Jolkona and the Give2Girls campaign going on right now, projects and causes all over the world need your donations so organizations can continue the strong work and empowerment, helping so many girls in this world. And for a limited time, the first $2,500 in donations made towards women and girls will be matched by the Seattle International Foundation. So give what you can, give today! Educate girls! See Girl Rising! Find a screening here.
Jolkona is proud to be a part of this movement to support and empower women through the Give2Girls campaign. You can also be a part of this movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest.