Female Leaders She's the First
She’s the First is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing scholarships for girls in developing countries.

The organization allows donors to directly sponsor the education of girls in low-income areas around the world. Research shows that girls at the secondary school level are particularly vulnerable, but thankfully She’s the First focuses on these girls and partners with local organizations to find potential secondary school level scholars based on academic merit, personal hardship and potential to contribute to the community following graduation.

The founders of the organization — Tammy Tibbetts and Christen Brandt — were inspired by their personal experiences with education and the power of a woman’s support network.

The education offered by She’s the First leverages these support networks to stretch beyond basic academics. The organization connects girls with support systems and mentors who teach them how to apply their newfound skills in their everyday lives, hoping that by being provided with such scholarships, the girls will be able to delay marriage and childbirth, avoid domestic violence, secure better wages and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.

Scholarships for girls are part of an overarching goal to achieve gender equality on all fronts. The United Nations recognizes the importance of girls’ education and have listed equitable education for all as one of its Sustainable Development Goals.

Research shows that investing in education for girls is not a futile effort; it increases both women’s earning potential and countries’ economic outputs. According to She’s the First, “only one in every five girls in the developing world finish primary school, and only one out of every three countries (37 percent) has as many girls as boys in secondary schools.”

Already, the United Nation’s previous Millennium Development Goals have made great strides in providing education for girls around the world. According to the 2015 MDG report, in Southern Asia, 74 girls for every 100 boys attended primary school in 1990. That number has now risen to 103 girls for every 100 boys.

She’s the First, meanwhile, has provided scholarships for over 750 scholars in 11 countries. According to their website, She’s the First has one main goal with their scholarships for girls: “We can transform a girl’s life if we help her be the first to reach her high school graduation, changing the trajectory of her entire life.”

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

“Over 31 million primary school-age girls are out of school despite progress in achieving universal primary education,” a report published by the Global Business Coalition for Education found.

This study was released on the International Day of the Girl Child, a time “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world,” says the UN.

The study produced an infographic and report which followed a female’s educational journey from birth to adulthood, offering insight into the obstacles faced by many seeking an education.

The infographic illustrated many of the disadvantages girls must overcome but, due to their circumstances, may be unable to. For example, a child born to a literate mother is five times more likely to survive beyond the age of 5.

However, girls who start engaging in child labor tend to be between 5-7 years old and few of them are given the opportunity of enrolling in school, which means millions never make it.

While the study recognizes that many businesses already do a great deal to empower girls in secondary education, the report encouraged companies to begin making investments at an earlier age.

“Examining the wider life cycle of a girl and investing sooner would have economic and societal benefits and help companies to support girls to become the leaders, consumers, employees, employers and innovators of the future,” says A World at School, a global campaign working to place all children in school.

After surveying 32 companies that invest in girls, the report discovered that early support in a child’s education is more helpful and transformative because it aids in building foundations in subjects, such as numeracy and literacy, which could advance them later in life.

The study suggests that the key to enabling more girls to receive an education lies in early investment; starting early will help prepare them with the necessary skills they will need to advance at work and in life.

In fact, the infographic also revealed that girls who complete both primary and secondary education “are likely to earn income, have fewer unwanted pregnancies, and break the poverty cycle.”

To build a more involved and sustainable role in girls’ educational development, the report has issued the following recommendations:

  1. Build broad-based partnerships
  2. Invest now, invest early
  3. Expand the business case for girl’s education
  4. Grow the evidence base
  5. Strengthen the corporate voice for girl’s education
  6. Play an active role in addressing the global crisis
  7. Make the health and education link for girls
  8. Train the next generation of employees and business leaders
  9. Work with the international donor community to scale what works in girl’s education

For many children’s education, their only hope rests in receiving support during their early years. As Executive Chair of GBC-Education Sarah Brown said, “We know all too well that the economic empowerment of a woman does not start when she is an adult. It starts when she is a girl.”

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: A World at School, UN
Photo: A World at School

Famous YouTuber Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella, and Talk Show Host Ellen DeGeneres have teamed up with Gap to release a new line of clothing for female empowerment.

The clothing line, called Gapkids x ED, encourages women of any age to feel strong and to voice their opinions. DeGeneres’ clothing brand, ED, has worked with Gap to combine comfy fabric and trendy styles with motivational quotes and symbols that inspire courage and confidence.

To show her support for the campaign, called GIRL, Sugg took a few minutes out of one of her vlog videos to flash one of her favorite t-shirts from the line. The British 25-year-old donned the GapKids x ED Energy Bolt Tee while introducing her involvement in GIRL to her nine million subscribers.

“This was something totally different, and I really, really loved this campaign. And I really wanted to get behind it and share it with you guys,” Sugg said in the video.

Expressing her backing for GIRL, DeGeneres said that one of the reasons she joined the campaign was because she shares some of the same ideals as Gap.

“Gap has always encouraged people to be themselves, and I love that they have the same values that I have; to be true to who you are and to wear cute pants,” DeGeneres said.

Not only do Gap and DeGeneres believe in sporting fashionable trousers, but they also think that self-image is a key step in female empowerment. DeGeneres said that she knows from experience that being true to yourself is important for growing and changing and that this campaign is demonstrating this notion by shining a light on real girls doing unique things.

GIRL focuses on three talented girls who each have something different to offer and demonstrate. The webpage for GIRL hosts three videos of each girl. Alexey, a young, bold and strong drummer, can be seen expertly beating her drum set. When asked what advice she has for girls, the little rocker gave a mature statement.

“Just follow what your heart says, and you can achieve it,” the 12-year-old said.

The other two girls featured by GIRL can also be seen in videos on the webpage. Torrae, a nine-year-old robotic hand technician, said that she is powerful because of her imagination. Twelve-year-old entrepreneur, Asia, started her own company when she was five and plans to start classes teaching kids her age about business.

Asia has big plans for her future. In her video, she proudly said that she wants to be a dancer, a singer, a rapper, a college graduate and the president of the United States.

Another girl representing the influence of personal voice is Sugg. With more than 700 million views on both of her YouTube channels combined, Sugg has been able to reach girls from all across the globe with her take on feminism in her fashion, beauty and life videos.

“So often, you can kind of get swept up in this world where you feel inferior or you feel like you should be doing something specific or you feel like you’re not doing something right. And it’s just a whole campaign basically to support girls to be who they are, and to be who they want to be. And I just think that that’s really amazing” Sugg said.

Like Sugg has done with her YouTube videos, DeGeneres said that this campaign has the ability to “break the internet.” GIRL encourages wearers of the brand to take selfies of themselves in the clothes and to share the pictures, as well as speak their views of feminism and equal rights.

DeGeneres added that there is also a collection by Gap x ED because they “believe in equal opportunity cuteness.”

Fallon Lineberger

Sources: Gap 1, Gap 2, Paste Magazine, YouTube 1, YouTube 2
Photo: Google Images