The world recently celebrated the first International Day of the Girl. One of the ways we marked this important milestone with our friends at GirlUp and their partners, on a marathon 12 hour twitter chat. Participants joined from all over the world—from Afghanistan to Tanzania, from the United Kingdom to the USA—to share thousands of tweets and links and stories about why girls matter. We also marked this important milestone just one day afterMalala Yousafzai was shot for going to school.
So Why DO Girls Matter?
Girls are still being married as teenagers (as young as 11 or 12) and bearing children before their bodies can cope. Bodies that are often stunted from childhood malnutrition, making childbirth significantly more dangerous; bodies that might have to walk miles over potholed dirt roads whilst in labor to get to the nearest health clinic; bodies that have been damaged by genital cutting, increasing even further the risk of complications in childbirth—complications like fistula and worse.
When girls are married so young, they are removed from school—assuming of course, they were able to attend in the first place. Because of inefficient cooking methods and lack of access to energy efficient fuels and stoves, girls are more likely to be collecting firewood and other fuel for lengthy intervals each day. If they are in school, lack of toilets, money for uniforms or school fees can prevent them for participating for very long.
And even if they can go to school, in some areas like Taliban-dominated parts of Pakistan, as we have brutally come to see, they can be shot for daring to learn.
When girls go to school, and stay in school, they are more able to get work or start businesses. They marry later and have fewer children, but those children are healthier and better nourished. Their odds of staying alive through childbirth are greater. Their children are more likely to be vaccinated and go to school themselves.
This is why the United Nations and others around the globe have come together for Malala Day. To honor Malala’s bravery and call the world into action for girls education everywhere.
It’s a generational cycle that affects both genders equally, but it all starts with girls.
The Take Action Challenge
Sign: The United Nations Special Envoy for Education, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will deliver a petition that calls on the world to deliver education for the world’s 61 million children out of school.
Donate: $13 will bring school books and a uniform for a girl to go to school. Equal access to education is all Malala has fought for since she was a child.
Share: On Tuesday November 13, 12-12:30 pm EST, tweet about Malala and/or why you believe in global girls education, using the hashtag #MalalaFund. Share the petition and donation links! (If you can’t join us at that time, schedule your tweets in advance and invite others to join us.)
- Bullets can’t stop dreams. #MalalaFund http://ow.ly/fajvf
- When you educate girls, you transform families and communities. #MalalaFund http://ow.ly/fajvf
- I donated $13 because I believe EVERY child – boy or girl – deserves an education #MalalaFund http://ow.ly/fajvf
We can do this. We have to do this. Because girls are the key to it all.
This is cross-posted from The Million Moms Challenge, which is an initiative of the United Nations Foundation and ABC News along with more than 30 partners, to share global health issues for mothers and babies. I am the Community Manager–however all opinions expressed here are my own.
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