Posts

Fight for Girls' Education
Jana Amin has taken great strides to fight for girls’ education. She researched a societal issue and suggested solutions for a school project when she was 13 years old. She decided to write about girls’ lack of access to education. Thus, she contacted Heya Masr, a nonprofit that organizes local educational and empowerment workshops for girls. Then, Amin hired a videographer to film her with Heya Masr’s students. Finally, she created an online fundraising campaign and raised more than $6,000 for the cause.

“We were going to visit family in Egypt anyway,” Amin told The Borgen Project. “And I thought to myself, I’m doing this work anyway. Why not use this as an opportunity to create tangible change?”

This was her first foray into activism. The 17-year-old Egyptian-American has given a TEDx talk, spoken about gender equality on a United Nations panel and curated an exhibit at the American University in Cairo. She advocates changing Western perceptions of Muslim women and wants to fight for girls’ education.

Changing Western Perceptions of Muslim Women

This was Amin’s first time formally conducting advocacy. However, she already had some experience. She lived in Egypt until she was around 10 years old when her family moved to Boston. Her activism began through one-on-one interactions with Bostonians about her life as a Muslim girl.

“On a daily basis, I was asked questions about if Egyptian girls could drive, if my mother could drive, if I was allowed to go to school in Egypt,” Amin said. “And it was all these misconceptions about Islam, the faith, about Middle Eastern culture, and more generally about women in the Middle East, about women in Islam. And so I think that’s how I first initially got pushed towards activism.”

Her desire to fix misconceptions about Muslim women led her to give a TEDx talk, where she spoke about how Western media often portrayed Muslim women as victims of oppression. She suggested that amplifying Muslim women’s voices would change this singular narrative.

Additionally, Amin curated an exhibit at the American University in Cairo. The exhibit featured Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt, the first wife of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the shah of Iran. Furthermore, the exhibit focused on the differences in how the Western and Egyptian press depicted Princess Fawzia. While Western media portrayed the princess as a helpless political pawn. Egyptian press depicted her as a humanitarian, champion of girls’ education and representation of the modern woman. Amin presented her research to bring awareness to Princess Fawzia’s accomplishments and to give other young Muslim women a powerful role model.

Fighting for Girls’ Education

Jana Amin continues to fight for girls’ education in many different ways. She recently spoke on a United Nations panel about how governments can tailor their policies to specifically address gender disparities.

“We often think that change in somebody’s life or change on a meaningful level requires so much,” Amin told The Borgen Project. “Something so simple as giving someone an education can do so much for their life.”

On her 17th birthday, Amin invited and interviewed 17 experts in female education and empowerment. She streamed this digital event “#17for17: Advocating for Girls’ Education” for many to view. The speakers included prominent writers, artists, activists and humanitarians.

Collateral Repair Project

As one of her ongoing projects, she also volunteers with a nonprofit organization called Collateral Repair Project to directly support women’s education efforts in the Middle East. Collateral Repair Project (CRP) is a nonprofit organization based in Amman, Jordan. It supports refugees living in Jordan through educational and female empowerment workshops and basic needs assistance.

Jana Amin discovered Collateral Repair Project during a school trip to the Middle East in her freshman year of high school. She was struck by its SuperGirls workshops, which provide young female refugees with a space to express their feelings, overcome trauma and speak up for themselves.

After Amin returned to Massachusetts, she volunteered with Collateral Repair Project. She met with refugees over Skype to help them practice conversational English. After three years, she also began teaching English over Zoom. However, the lessons were unreliable due to Wi-Fi issues and Amin began to doubt whether the lessons were useful. Yet after about four weeks, a Yemeni woman lined up her four children in front of a camera, who recited basic English phrases that Amin had taught their mother.

Amin said the experience reminded her that “you educate one woman and she has the ability to educate her family and in turn her community.”

The Power of Activism

Amin believes that she has a responsibility to create positive change in her community. To many people, fearlessness propels Amin’s activism. This courage is evident when she cold-called Michelle Obama. While preparing for her “#17for17” birthday event, she called and messaged the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance to ask if Michelle Obama could speak at her event. Although Amin did not expect to succeed, the program’s representatives responded within 24 hours to say that Michelle Obama was busy that day. However, its executive director, Tiffany Drake, was willing to be a speaker. She was delighted to discover she is not alone in the fight for girls’ education.

“I think we do the craziest things when we don’t hold ourselves back,” she said.

– Sarah Brinsley
Photo: Courtesy of Jana Amin

Inspirational Books with Advocate Authors
Book lovers or activists on the search for an inspirational read should find interest in this book list. From stories of equal access to education to serving the world’s poor, here is a list of five inspirational books with advocate authors.

5 Inspirational Books with Advocate Authors

  1. “I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb: Growing up in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai faced barriers as a woman. Malala loved school, but her life changed when the Taliban took over her town. It banned girls from attending school when she was 11 years old. After speaking out on behalf of girls’ right to an education, a masked gunman shot Malala while on her bus ride home from school. Miraculously, she survived and became an advocate for girls everywhere, sharing her story in her book “I am Malala.” She once said, “I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.”
  2. “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela: Regarded as an international hero for his fight against racial oppression in South Africa, Mandela went on to tell his story in this inspirational autobiography. Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and was also the leader of the African National Congress’ armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, before his presidency in South Africa from 1994-1999. Mandela received a conviction on charges of sabotage and other crimes as he led a movement against apartheid, serving 27 years in prison. Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his groundbreaking work that led to the beginning of the end to apartheid.
  3. “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates: A New York Times instant best-seller, Melinda Gates’ “The Moment of Lift” tells the stories of the women she met during her years of humanitarian work and research around the world. Simultaneously, she also tells the story of her personal journey to achieving equality in her marriage to Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates makes this foundational claim in her evocative book: “When we lift up women, we lift up humanity.” President Barack Obama praised Gates’ first book for its power and importance: “In her book, Melinda tells the stories of the inspiring people she’s met through her work all over the world, digs into the data and powerfully illustrates issues that need our attention—from child marriage to gender inequity in the workplace.”
  4. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama: Michelle Obama, the first African American First Lady of the United States of America, tells her impressive story in this thought-provoking novel. From growing up on the south side of Chicago, balancing an executive position, motherhood and her time as First Lady, Obama demonstrates her dedication as an advocate for women and girls everywhere. In this number one U.S. bestselling memoir, Obama promotes inclusivity and displays important advancements toward healthy living for families everywhere, cementing her place in this list of inspirational books with advocate authors.
  5. “Mother Theresa: In My Own Words” by Mother Teresa: Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun who worked for over 40 years in India. She ministered for the sick and poor as she founded and expanded the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa became a famed humanitarian and advocate for the poor by 1970. She received the Nobel Peace Prize for her inspirational and selfless work in Calcutta, India. A collection of quotes, stories and prayers, “Mother Teresa: In My Own Words” is a testament to the power of her words, not only for the poor but for everyone around the globe.
Poverty links inextricably to so many other issues that are plaguing the world today. Between equal access to education, food security and racial segregation, it is impossible to ignore the connection between all of these issues. These inspirational books with advocate authors serve as informative and motivational pieces of writing that remind everyone to be global citizens and actively fight for one another.

– Hannah White
Photo: Flickr

Keep Young Girls in School
CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), a nonprofit providing unprecedented opportunity to young girls in the sub-Saharan regions of Africa, emerged in 1993. According to a study by the World Literacy Foundation in 2015, of the 781 million illiterate people around the world, two-thirds of the people within that total are women. CAMFED is an organization working on keeping young girls in school by helping alleviate the financial burdens of families that want to give their daughters education but may not have the means to.

CAMFED’s Motivation

Upon the organization’s origin in Zimbabwe, it provided financial support for 32 girls, inevitably keeping young girls in school. The initial purpose of the nonprofit was to showcase that if poverty was no longer an obstacle, the cultural norms would become nonexistent, and girls would attend school alongside boys if given the opportunity. This purpose still lies at the forefront of the nonprofit’s premise and has helped it grow exponentially over the past 26 years.

CAMFED’s IMPACT

As of 2019, CAMFED has already supported 3.3 million girls in school across sub-Saharan Africa, with nearly 6 million benefiting from an improved educational environment. It supported approximately 52,700 children through primary school just in 2018 alone, in addition to the 64,700 supported through secondary schools. The girls’ communities choose them to become a part of the program because they know better than anyone which girls are the most vulnerable and deserving of the organization’s help.

CAMPED’s work extends far beyond the realm of the classroom, however. It provides uniforms, school supplies and sanitary products to support each girl to the full extent that it can. The organization is unique in the sense that it personally invests in the welfare and success of each girl that it takes under its wing. The organization also helps the girls find jobs upon graduation, and while a majority of the women have gone on to become teachers or doctors, many have started their own businesses. The girls that were a part of the first group still involve themselves in the organization and have founded the CAMA alumnae network, which now has grown to 138,000 members. It is a way for them to mentor young women and advocate for the program that changed their lives for the better.

CAMFED and Michelle Obama

The organization is primarily internationally based and has offices in the U.S.A, Canada and the United Kingdom. It receives most of its funds from various government contributions and large statutory organizations, but also receives support from individuals. In October 2018, former first lady Michelle Obama welcomed the CAMFED alumnae chapter, CAMA, to the Global Girls Alliance. It was her first major acquisition of a program that she made for the Obama Foundation and a momentous one for the nonprofit. The organization exists on the premise of the rights of women as grassroots leaders and the importance of keeping young girls in school to help alleviate the obstacles that a majority of women around the world are facing.

– Joanna Buoniconti
Photo: Flickr

First Ladies for Global Issues

U.S. presidents are often put in the spotlight, but what many people overlook is the work of America’s First Ladies. This list offers insight into the most influential First Ladies for global issues and their efforts to address these issues.

Top 8 Most Influential First Ladies for Global Issues

  1. Eleanor Roosevelt- Weeks after Franklin Roosevelt assumed his role as president, Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany. Hitler’s reign spurred a European refugee crisis. Eleanor Roosevelt used her platform as First Lady to garner U.S. support for refugees. To that end, she came out as a supporter of the Wagner-Rogers bill. This bill would allow the entry of 20,000 German children into the U.S. The Wagner-Roger bill ended up dying in committee, but the First Lady didn’t stop there. Eleanor Roosevelt proceeded to establish the U.S. Committee for the Care of European Children. USCOM was able to bring refugee children from France safely into the U.S.
  2. Patricia Nixon- This First Lady was known for her avid support of volunteerism and charitable causes. During her time in the White House, she made numerous journeys abroad. The first solo trip Patricia Nixon took was to Peru to provide relief supplies to earthquake victims. She later traveled as her husband’s Personal Representative to Africa and South America.
  3. Rosalynn Carter- Rosalynn Carter embarked on perhaps one of the most ambitious international missions taken by a First Lady. In 1977, she visited Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Jamaica and assumed the position of the President’s representative. She took part in meetings to discuss policy issues such as drug trafficking, arms reduction and human rights. She continued her work in 1979 when she learned of the Cambodian refugee crisis. After seeing the conditions of the crisis for herself, she urged the U.N. to get involved in the issue. As a result of her urging, the National Cambodian Crisis Committee was established.
  4. Nancy Reagan- This First Lady is well known for her efforts to address the global drug epidemic. In 1985, Nancy Reagan held a First Ladies Conference on Drug Abuse to discuss solutions to drug abuse with other first ladies from across the globe. The following year, Reagan became the first First Lady to meet with the U.N. General Assembly where she highlighted the importance of attacking the world’s growing drug epidemic.
  5. Hillary Clinton- Hillary Clinton formed an impressive network with female global leaders across the world. She helped establish Vital Voices, an initiative that encouraged the incorporation of women in politics. She spoke out about gender equality at home and abroad. Clinton was one of the only political figures to draw attention to the violent treatment of Afghan women by the Taliban regime.
  6. Laura Bush- As First Lady, Laura Bush allocated much of her time towards improving global education and health. In 2005, she made the journey to Afghanistan to promote teacher-training institutions for women. Towards the end of her husband’s presidency, Bush continued traveling the world to promote the importance of global health. In 2007, she traveled to the Middle East to raise awareness for women’s health and breast cancer.
  7. Michelle Obama- In 2015, Michelle Obama launched the Let Girls Learn program. This program focuses on getting girls worldwide into school and making sure they remain in school. Let Girls Learn works with USAID, the State Department and the Peace Corps to carry out its mission. In 2016, Obama traveled to greet recipients of the benefits of the Let Girls Learn program in Liberia and Morocco.
  8. Melania Trump- Melania Trump has shown that she intends on following in the steps of her predecessors. She has targeted disease, trafficking and hunger as some of her main issues. The First Lady urged the U.N. to do more to aid these causes. She most recently embarked on a trip to Kenya, Egypt and Ghana. The First Lady was touched by the experience, and according to President Trump, there are intentions of helping these regions in the future.

– Gabriella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

Meryl Streep's Humanitarian EffortsOften called one of the greatest living actresses, Meryl Streep is one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed stars. With a film career dating back to the 1970s, Streep has racked up an impressive resume, winning two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, and seven Golden Globes — among other awards and countless nominations.

Known for her impressive accent impressions and desire to perfect any role she plays, Streep is extremely dedicated to anything she finds passion in. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when it comes to philanthropy and humanitarian work, Meryl Streep is dedicated to every cause she supports.

Girl Up

Girl Up is a massive organization that focuses on empowering young women and girls. Many influential people have supported the organization in various ways, including fashion photographer Nigel Barker, former NFL player Wade Davis, and Meryl Streep herself. One of Girl Up’s biggest priorities is girls’ education worldwide.

Through a collaboration with the organization, Meryl Streep co-narrated the film Girl Rising. The 2013 film highlights stories of nine girls from Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Peru, Egypt, Nepal, India, and Cambodia. The film highlights the various obstacles girls in underdeveloped and developing countries face to become educated. By lending her voice to a film with such an important message, Streep inevitably brings in an audience that may not have otherwise tuned in.

Gender Equality

Meryl Streep has also been involved with a variety of panels and events dedicated to gender equality. In 2015, she attended the sixth annual Women in the World Summit — an event started by journalist Tina Brown in an effort to make people “engage with the world and see beyond our own”. Meryl Streep was part of a “Three Great Women of Film” panel, in which she stressed the importance of empathy, telling the audience that nothing matters more than a film’s ability to make people feel what others feel.

In 2016, the White House screened the CNN documentary We Will Rise, which highlights girls in the pursuit of education in Liberia and Morocco. Then-first lady Michelle Obama spoke about her travels to these two countries in Africa, and how she saw the troubles that many girls face concerning education. Meryl Streep, staying true to her passion for global girl’s’ education, accompanied Michelle Obama during these travels. Meryl Streep, therefore, was very supportive of the former first lady’s Let Girls Learn Initiative, an initiative that focused heavily on the reasons that girls are unable to receive an education.

Additionally, Meryl Streep has signed several letters and campaigns calling for gender equality. In 2015, the ONE Campaigned penned an open letter calling for women to be focused on in the UN summit; Streep signed this letter. She also signed another letter on International Women’s Day in 2016 in the name of gender equality.

Streep is a spokesperson for the National Women’s History Museum and has made various donations to the museum. She notably supports the Women in the World Foundation. First launched in 2011, the foundation uses the power of the Internet to determine which causes need which solutions — awarding grants as is seen fit. Streep also supports CHIME FOR CHANGE, which has successfully funded hundreds of projects in 80 countries in the name of health and justice for women and girls.

Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts

In addition to independently supporting various organizations, Meryl Streep’s humanitarian efforts blossomed into her foundation. Based in New Jersey, USA, Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts is Meryl Streep’s organization co-founded with her husband, sculptor Donald Gummer. Much of the funding goes towards arts-based organizations such as Mass MoCA, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the National Museum of Women’s History.

However, the Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts has also made contributions to women’s and environmental organizations such as Women for Women International, the Women’s Refugee Commissions, the Rainforest Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Additional Support

Since its establishment in 1983, Streep has created a foundation that gives to a multitude of organizations. However, as highlighted previously, Meryl Streep’s humanitarian efforts don’t stop there. She also supports Artists for Peace and Justice, an organization that has donation 100 percent of its donated funds to Haiti in the aftermath of its disastrous earthquake.

Meryl Streep’s humanitarian efforts expand to alleviating hunger and poverty through her support for causes like Heifer International. This organization provides livestock as well as training to low-income families. By providing training, these families and communities can expand their livestock and become self-sufficient — which is the ultimate goal in poverty relief.

With a history of giving back almost as extensive as her film career, it’s clear that Meryl Streep’s humanitarian efforts are extremely important to her. Largely devoted to causes pushing for equality, Streep has served as an excellent role model for what a philanthropic celebrity looks like.

Emily Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Michelle Obama Quotes

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has dedicated her life to her own education and the education of others. From growing up in the slums of Chicago, to going to Princeton University, Obama’s hardwork and determination is truly inspiring.

After her time at Princeton, Obama traveled back to Chicago to work with the mayor as an assistant. Then, in 1993, she became the exclusive director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a non-profit organization that helps young people develop leadership skills. Her resume is extensive and includes many different titles, but Obama has kept one thing consistent: her desire to better the lives of children.

Whenever she is giving a speech, Obama makes a point to speak about education and giving back to the community. These Michelle Obama Quotes demonstrate her commitment to focusing attention on the issue of girls’ education around the world.

Michelle Obama Quotes Girls Education

  1. Obama’s initiative Global Girls Alliance, which helps women around the world receive an education, was inspired by a conference she attended in the U.K. in 2009 to speak to a group of schoolgirls about education. In the Penguin Talks U.K., an interview series with Penguin Publishings’ most influential authors, Obama answered questions about her life and her work in bettering girls’ education around the world.

    “The visit (in 2009) set my course in one of my initiatives: to work on girls education,” Obama said. “It was after that visit that I went back and said ‘we have to find a way to have these conversations around the world’ because meeting with the girls here and the girls at Mulberry just reminded me of how much talent and how much courage and how much hope there is in our girls who are struggling to do everything right, when they have so much working against them.”

  2. In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, Obama was asked about the initiative she announced on the Today Show. The initiative is a clear indication of the type of platform the former First Lady wishes to take: girls’ education worldwide.

    “We want to lift up the grassroots leaders in communities all over the world who are clearing away the hurdles that too many girls face,” Obama said. “Because the evidence is clear: educating girls isn’t just good for the girls, it’s good for all of us.”

  3. In 2014, Obama gave a speech at the Brookings Institution, an institution that has been helping girl around the world receive an education. Obama not only discusses the importance of girls’ education, but the external forces that prevent girls from participating in education.

    “We really can’t take up the issue of girls education unless we are also willing to confront all of the complex issues that keep so many girls out-of-school. Issues like early and forced marriage, genital cutting,” Obama said.

  4. “A few years ago, when I had the honor of meeting Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head just for trying to go to school, this issue got really personal for me… That’s why I decided to work on global girls’ education as first lady: because right now, there are tens of millions of girls like Malala in every corner of the globe who are not in school- girls who are so bright, hardworking and hungry to learn. And that’s really the mission of the Let Girls Learn initiative.”
  5. At a conference held by Glamour entitled “The Power of Educated Girls” Obama, actress and activist Charlize Theron and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard discussed the importance of girls’ education globally.

    “If we want to end poverty, educating girls is key to all of that. You were able to leave and shine and to learn and to teach,” Obama said.

  6. Michelle Obama delivered a powerful keynote speech at the Wise 2015 World’s Innovation Summit For Girls’ Education. In her speech, she discussed the importance of girls’ education and the importance of their protection. She explained that getting girls into school is a great stride, but it’s keeping girls in schools and supplying them with resources that poses a challenge.

    “We cannot address our girls’ education crisis until we address the cultural norms and practices that devalue women’s intelligence, that silence their voices and limit their ambitions,” Obama said.

These Michelle Obama quotes encapsulate who she is, before and after being in the White House. Her work to better the education of girls all around the world is ambitious but doable. Obama gives everyone hope that making education available to girls everywhere is achievable. By using her platform and her personal story to promote girls education worldwide, Obama continues to uplift and drive girls and women all over the world.

– Andrew Valdovinos
Photo: Flickr

Four Top Speeches on Girls' EducationOver the decades, feminist literature has played a pivotal role in addressing feminism, women’s rights and other related social issues concerning women and girls. Speeches, in particular, have proved to be a powerful vehicle for social justice and mobilization and are helping to promote gender equality and freedom for women globally. There are four top speeches that exemplify the ideals that women’s rights and the importance of girls’ education stand for.

Despite major headway, particularly in global poverty alleviation, there are still significant social and cultural barriers to education for girls around the world. Modern third-wave feminism and contemporary feminist jurisprudence itself continue to prioritize the elimination of gender-based discrimination in all facets along with its focus on intersectionality.

As girls’ education remains one of the most prevalent social issues of today, the following are some of the top speeches on girls’ education that prove to be inspiring and revolutionary not only in their content and scope but also their context and timelessness.

Four Top Speeches on Girls’ Education

  1. ‘What Educated Women Do’ by Indira Gandhi: This particular speech was rendered by former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi before her death and it remains one of the most influential speeches on girls’ education, especially as it draws attention to the issues faced in South Asia. Not only does she use anecdotes and experiences from her own life to describe India’s tough social landscape but she also outlines the hardships and conditions for women and children in the country and the continued presence of outdated and oppressing social constructs in society. According to Gandhi, education is paramount to ensuring India’s continued growth and development in the future. Furthermore, she believed that educated women in India can boost the country’s image on the world stage as well.
  2. “Islam Forbids Injustice Against People, Nations and Women,” by Benazir Bhutto: The speech given by Pakistan’s former Prime Minister before her death is especially noteworthy for its radical opposition to politics and society in the country. Bhutto’s position in Pakistan’s political arena was largely dominated by her political activism to end discrimination and inequality. She singled out conservatism and patriarchy in society as being some of the primary causes of discrimination. Moreover, Bhutto’s unraveling of society was especially historic at that juncture as she called into question the religious misinterpretation of Islamic teachings and the propagation of obscurantism that contributes to it. She distinguished between social taboos and Islamic religious teachings to highlight the social injustices adversely impacting women in her country.
  3. ‘Let Girls Learn’ by Michelle Obama in London: Of all the empowering speeches Michelle Obama has given through her tenure as the former First Lady of the United States, a rather remarkable one remains her address on the occasion of her campaign for ‘Let Girls Learn,’ which is an organization that revitalizes the importance of girl’s education across the world. Established in 2015 by the Obamas in collaboration with USAID, Let Girls Learn aims to reach more than 62 million girls globally by increasing existing education programs and securing private-sector commitments. These initiatives will help increase access to education and crumble existing barriers. In her speech, she struck a chord as she passionately advocated for girls’ education as she addressed girls in a school in Mulberry, a borough that is known to be among London’s poorest. On this visit, Michelle Obama collaborated with the U.K. government and secured $200 million in funding to support girls’ education in conflict-ridden zones in countries like Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.
  4. UN Address by Malala Yousafzai: Not only did this speech cement Malala Yousafzai’s influence globally but it also alerted the world to the deficiencies and lack of girl’s education in many countries. She drew from the context in Pakistan and her horrific experiences as a child. In her poignant speech, she spoke about practices like child labor, exploitation and other social injustices befalling women. She also emphasized the strong potential that female education could have on the world, particularly in crises like war, conflict and poverty. One of the most striking aspects of her speech is her direct address to world leaders as she urged international discourse on peace and security to center around the protection of women and girls and securing their rights. The last words of her speech, ‘Education first,’ still remain the key pillar for all her initiatives, particularly the work being undertaken by the Malala Foundation.

These four incredible women have been an inspiration to women and girls around the world. They have tirelessly fought for equality for women and an equal chance at education. These four women delivered the four top speeches on girls’ education.

– Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Pixabay

Global Girls’ Alliance
On the International Day of the Girl, Michelle Obama, former first lady of the U.S., announced that she is launching the Global Girls Alliance, a program aimed at empowering adolescent girls through education around the world.

The Goal of Global Girls Alliance

The Global Girls Alliance is designed to support grassroots leaders around the world who best understand the unique challenges girls face in their local communities and the strategies needed to overcome them. Obama was inspired to start the alliance during her visit to a local high school in Liberia. Obama stated that the organization is seeking to empower adolescent girls around the world through education so that they can support their families, communities and countries.

She said that she is supportive of the girls that show up every day in school even though their families depend on them to take care of younger siblings, cook meals and ensure their household is running smoothly. They show up even though many are pressured to marry as adolescents, sidetracking their own goals for a man’s. Girls that attend secondary schools have higher salaries, lower infant and mortality rates and are less likely to contract malaria and HIV. Educating girls is not good just for the girl, but for wider communities as well.

Girls’ Educational Issues

According to a U.N. study, there are almost 98 million adolescent girls that are not receiving any form of education. In some countries, it is unsafe for girls to attend school as they can be subjects of sexual harassment, assault, or a dangerous commute. In addition, many adolescent girls are forced to miss school during menstruation due to lack of resources or stigma and some are expected to take on household responsibilities or get married. Child-marriage is also a big issue that perpetuates global poverty, and one major way to reduce child-marriage is to get more girls in school. Through education, women can be empowered and work to eradicate global poverty.

Successful Story

Mainly, the Global Girls Alliance connects with grassroots leaders globally to share ideas and strategies that best work for their community. Among these grassroots leaders is Eliakunda Kaaya from Tanzania, who was the first in her family to graduate from high school and college despite her family’s belief that women shouldn’t attend school. Kaaya has worked as an education mentor for girls and is currently working on girls on reproductive health sessions, as Tanzania’s education policy is that girls cannot attend school if they become pregnant, even after the child is born.

Kaaya hopes the Global Girls Alliance will help this movement move forward with more resources and by mobilizing more members of global communities to be involved in the issues surrounding girls’ education. Kaaya, like many other girls, grew up with this belief in her household and community, but sought education despite it and is empowering girls through education as part of the Global Girls Alliance. “Anything good you see in this world it is because women have been part of it,” Kaaya said in Webster’s interview, reflecting on her meeting with Michelle Obama.

GoFundMe

The program also has a GoFundMe page where donors can give financial support to these grassroots leaders, either as a general donation or to a specific project. Funding is used for scholarships, mentorship programs, entrepreneurship preparations and parental education to ensure girls are supported both at school and within the home.

So far, the campaign has raised $225,907 of their $250,000 goal. Specific project donations include Uganda’s Empower Girls through Education, Malawi’s CRECCOM Equitable Quality Education, India’s SHEF’s Education Initiative, Ghana’s Change the World, Educate a Girl! and Guatemala’s The Thousand Girl Initiative. These donations can reap a large return effect.

According to the World Bank, limiting girls’ education costs countries from $15 to $30 trillion in loss of lifetime productivity and earnings. Educating girls can improve health, economic well-being and overall livelihood of communities. The alliance also seeks to shift the paradigm of girls’ education by advocating for developed countries to spread the word and get involved by spreading awareness.

Education young girls and women, in general, is beneficial for women, but for the whole world as well. Empowering them to step out of their traditional roles and take command over their lives can directly impact GDP growth of the countries. Organizations such as Global Girls Alliance are realizing this potential and are making sure it is being utilized.

– Anna Power
Photo: Flickr

Let_Girls_Learn_InitiativeMichelle Obama is making strides with her Let Girls Learn initiative.

Let Girls Learn was launched by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in March of 2015. Its goal is to unite existing agencies with programs to further global education for girls and to bring focus to the issue.

Organizations involved include the U.S. Department of State, USAID and the Peace Corps.

On March 16, Mrs. Obama published a letter about the importance of girls’ education to her, personally. The letter was published with Lenny Letter. Lenny Letter is a “feminist arts newsletter” founded by Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO TV series “Girls,” and her writing partner, Jenni Conner.

Mrs. Obama’s letter is the latest in a series of feminist contributions from well-known personalities such as Jennifer Lawrence.

In her letter, Mrs. Obama describes how her world travels as First Lady of the United States have put a personal face on the issue of education for girls. Obama’s conversations with young women around the world showed her that, despite the many roadblocks they faced (such as being required to help their parents and siblings or to marry and start families of their own at very young ages) they were hopeful about the possibilities education could provide them.

Obama says she feels a kinship with these young women.

“I see myself in these girls—in their ambition and their determination to rise above their circumstances,” said Mrs. Obama.

Also on March 16, Mrs. Obama gave a keynote address at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX. She spoke of her work with Let Girls Learn and also presented a song written for the initiative. Artists like Missy Elliot, Kelly Clarkson and Janelle Monae, among others, came together to perform the song, written by Diane Warren.

According to CNN, the proceeds from iTunes sales of the song, “This is for My Girls,” will go to the Peace Corps for the work they do for the Let Girls Learn initiative.

Ms. Obama also kicked off a pledge drive for people to show their support for educating girls around the globe.

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: Flickr

supporting education for girls in developing countriesMichelle Obama recently spoke on the importance of education for girls in developing countries at the 2015 World Innovation Summit for Education in Qatar.

According to EFA Global Monitoring Report, there are 66 million girls out of school globally. There are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school.

Michelle Obama is traveling through the Middle East discussing the importance of education for girls in developing countries in order to promote “Let Girls Learn,” her girls’ education initiative. She encouraged men in developing countries to support the cause of educating girls in order to improve their societies.

 

Health Benefits of Supporting Education for Girls in Developing Countries

 

Education is one of the most significant ways that women can empower themselves, and educating women provides many benefits to developing countries.

Girls with eight years of education are four times less likely to be married as children. Women who are educated marry later and, therefore, have fewer children. Multiple studies show that an extra year of schooling for girls reduces fertility rate by five to 10 percent.

The children of an educated woman are more likely to survive. In addition, a child born to a literate mother is 50 percent more likely to survive past the age of five.

Educated women are better at understanding and managing health issues, which reduces infant and maternal mortality.

 

Economic Benefits of Supporting Education for Girls in Developing Countries

 

Educating women also benefits the economy. According to chief Japan strategist and co-head of Asia Economics, “educated women contribute to the quality, size and productivity of the workforce. They can get better paying jobs, allowing them to provide daily necessities, health care and education to support their families.”

A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20 percent more as an adult.

Bloomberg Business estimates a “growth premium” that would raise gross domestic product growth by 0.2 percent per year for countries such as Vietnam, Nigeria and Pakistan that put greater investments in female education. Narrowing the gender gap could raise income per capita 20 percent higher than what is projected by 2030.

According to The World Bank, if India enrolled one percent more girls in secondary school, its gross domestic product would rise by $5.5 billion.

Educating girls provides many significant benefits to developing countries and can help lift areas out of poverty. Education for girls will continue to improve conditions in developing countries across the globe.

Jordan Connell

Sources: Bloomberg Business, CNN, Girl Rising, UNICEF
Photo: Flickr