As the mother to a little girl, I find myself deeply concerned by the amount of pink in the girls’ toy aisle. I don’t like the message about “ideal” body type Barbie sends my daughter and her friends. And I’m disturbed that in the United States, there’s still a gender gap in earnings, with women making approximately 19% less than their male counterparts. None of these issues should be taken lightly—we have a lot of work to do.
In the United States, though, we should consider ourselves lucky that our problems of inequality are about equal pay for equal work. We are privileged that our worries focus on things like “all of these female dolls are blonde.” That’s not to say these issues aren’t important; but they pale in comparison to the obstacles girls face in developing countries, where their reality is bleak:
- Women and girls make up half the world’s population, yet represent 70% of the world’s poor.
- Girls are three times more likely to be malnourished than boys.
- Women make up 70% of the world’s working hours and earn only 10% of the world’s income—half of what men earn.
- Over the next decade, 142 million girls are expected to marry before they turn 18.
- Child marriage is most common between the ages of 12 and16, but can occur in girls as young as 3-4 years old.
LEARN MORE: Watch The Bride Price: Consequences of Child Marriage Worldwide
Statistics Source: The Bride Price
- 67 million children worldwide don’t go to school. Over half are girls.
- 60% of children interviewed in India agreed that if resources are scarce, it’s better to educate a boy than a girl.
- $92 billion is the estimated economic loss for countries that do not educate girls to the same level as boys.
We can view these statistics with personal empathy—by picturing the faces of the girls who want, more than anything, to learn. Our hearts can ache for child brides. Thinking about girls growing up in these conditions is enough to compel most of us to take action.
But we can also view this issue from the perspective of logic and practicality. If our vision for the world is that of peace, human rights, and affluence, we should start by educating girls.
Research shows that educating girls can have an enormous impact not only on individuals, but also for local communities and the global economy:
- One extra year of school boosts a girl’s future wages by 10-20%.
- If 10% more girls are educated, a country’s GDP increases by as much as 3%.
- Knowledge and skills learned at school are passed onto her parents and the community.
- Education drastically reduces child marriage. On average, a girl with 7 years of education will marry 4 years later and have 2.2 fewer children.
- A girl who completes basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV.
From these statistics, it’s easy to see the value of educating girls. But when you think of how many women and girls live in developing countries, figuring out how to help might feel a little overwhelming.
How to Help
Making a difference is easier than you think. Charities are working all around the globe, making huge strides. Here are just a few small ways you can help them change the world:
- $20: Give a laptop to a child in Lesotho, Africa through Laptops to Lesotho
- $30: Buy a school uniform through 10×10 Fund
- $50: Pay school fees for one girl, for one year through 10×10 Fund
- $50: Provide an African student with a uniform and mosquito net through Maranyundo
Or donate more if you can:
- Help Haitian Women find sustainable livelihoods and access to water through If Pigs Could Fly Haiti
- Instill leadership skills in children, and equip teachers in Africa through Giving Back to Africa
Women around the world face enormous barriers, simply for being born female. Help remove their obstacles, and give girls in other countries equal access to education. It doesn’t take a lot to make a huge difference.
—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager