I've said it before. I'm a believer in Girl Power. It may sound naive, but I really do believe that if the female half of our race got the education she needed, wasn't chronically disregarded and undervalued, and was able to make the living that she needed that the world would be entirely different place. That is not to say that violence, poverty, injustice, illness, and fear would disappear. However, I think it would be a good first step toward bringing those things to a manageable level.
I'm not one to go plugging corporate philanthropy arms, but I just gotta send out a big HIGH FIVE to the Nike Foundation. In 2008, they helped to launch the "Girl Effect" website which addresses the possibility of societal change by having girls help girls. Take a look at this video:
On their website, The Nike Foundation clearly articulates how helping a girl makes a difference. So in case you didn't know...
"Evidence shows that bolstering girls’ health, education and prosperity will build prospects for her family and her country’s economic prosperity. Tap her potential and the world benefits:
• Ensure she has seven or more years of education and she will marry four years later and have 2.2 fewer children.
• When 10 percent more girls go to secondary school, the country’s economy grows by 3 percent.
• When an educated girl earns income she reinvests 90 percent in her family, compared to 35 percent for a boy.
• When women have the skills to participate in public life, government corruption declines."
The site goes on to say:
"Yet, despite her proven potential, in today’s developing countries she is more likely to be uneducated, a child bride, exposed to HIV/AIDS. And about half a cent of every international development dollar is directed to her; 99.4 percent of funding goes elsewhere. The world is missing out on a tremendous opportunity for change."
The Nike Foundation focuses on the developing world. And yes, that is important. However, I wonder if, here at home, we are giving our girls a chance too? I see commercial sexual exploitation of girls, the shunning of teens who get pregnant, and a subset of women who are kept in poverty and powerlessness because people assume that it is a path they have chosen versus a circumstance where they have made the best choices they could make and are still left holding the short end of the stick.
Life certainly isn't fair and no one promises fairness. However, what happens if those of us who are blessed, get off our high horse and show a little compassion to our sisters who have never had a good break. What if those of us who have the luxury of a relatively healthy upbringing and who are pretty decent moms help those moms who have never known that? What could we change? How do we start?