Empowering Our Girls

September 22, 2014 Sandra Dawes

I had the honour of being part of a Global Women’s Peace Summit on the weekend and I had the most amazing time.  The women present were 8577353141_d3f5a69df4_nawesome and the speakers shared stories that so many of us could relate to.  I love it when men and women come together to work towards a common goal.  The goal of this event was to increase awareness about the importance and need for girls everywhere to have an education.

We watched the film Girl Rising and it was heart breaking and hopeful all at once.  This movie told the story of several girls from countries in the developing world. They shared their struggles to get an education, their stories of abuse, rape, slavery and poverty. While this may be sounding like a very depressing movie, it does get better for the girls in the movie. There are people who have helped them to escape the violence, be released from servitude, and get an education.

The movie shared startling facts on the effects of an educated female population. More educated girls means a decrease in the spread of AIDS, healthier, more educated children, positive contributions to the economy, and the list goes on. The impact of educating the female population is too great to ignore.  Why shouldn’t girls everywhere have the opportunity to go to school like their male counterparts, so that they can contribute to society and affect meaningful change?

Watching Girl Rising made me grateful for all the opportunities I had as a young girl.  Getting an education was never a question; in fact, it was what my parents emphasized more than anything else.  As immigrants, they understood the importance and power of having an education. I loved school so much I can’t imagine being denied the opportunity to go!

Girl Rising illustrates that we’ve made some progress, but there is still a lot left to be done.  We can’t ignore what’s happening across the world simply because we don’t see it in our face on a regular basis.  Whether we witness it or not, it is happening.  We owe it to ourselves and our global community to do whatever we can to help put as many girls in school as possible. Whether it’s donating to the cause, volunteering, or simply increasing awareness, there is something we can all do to improve the situation, even if it’s helping girls locally.

The time for treating girls as less than, as a burden, or something to be ashamed of is over.  It isn’t furthering progress in any way shape or form.  The only thing it does is reinforce a patriarchal system that clearly doesn’t work.  I can only hope that there are enough of us that feel this way that we can make a massive shift and create a world where every child has access to an education and the opportunity to make their world a better place than they left it.  ♥

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