The Girl Effect

One-fourth of girls in developing countries are not in school. Of the world’s 130 million youth who don’t go to school, 70% of them are girls.

When a girl in the developing world receives 7 years or more of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. And when women earn income, they reinvest 90% of it back into their families, compared to only 30-40% for men.

So why are girls so overlooked around the world? Shockingly little has been done to understand these phenomenons, or the economic impact of educating and empowering girls. Many girls around the world are invisible before their feet even hit the ground; millions are not even recorded at birth. To the world, they simply don’t exist.

That needs to be changed.

Sumitra, before (2006) and after (2007)

I met many such girls in my travels through India over the years, and I tell many of their stories in The Weight of Silence. Stories like Sumitra’s, who came to the orphanage in the middle of the night as a starving 9-month-old whose mother had died. But today, Sumitra is receiving wonderful care and education, and her future looks hopeful. 

I have seen, first-hand, so many similar stories that showed to me, in person right before my eyes, what monumental changes can be made with just a little bit of care, effort and money. The one thing that amazed me the most, throughout my journey of writing this book, has been the realization that although the need is great, the answer doesn’t have to be complicated or impossible. I have seen incredible things accomplished from humble beginnings. Truly, all it takes is enough people caring enough to do ONE THING, to take ONE ACTION, to perform ONE SMALL PERSONAL MIRACLE.

Will you be that person?

Meet Anita, a beautiful young girl from India who had to go on a hunger strike just to convince her parents to let her go to school rather than get married.

Must so many girls have to struggle so hard, simply to have an education and a better life? This is a question that Anita asks – but I think it’s a question that girls shouldn’t have to ask. It should be the right of all girls.

Today Anita owns her own business, because of her determination and her ability, finally, to go to college. She was also an inspiration to other girls – after she went to school, all the girls in her village went. You can hear her story, in her own words, below:

Anita asks, what does my story mean to you?

I’m one girl who gets to speak to you. But there are 600 million like me who face little chance.

I’m Anita. I’m a girl. And I’m waiting to hear from you.

The girl effect is about girls.

And boys.

And moms and dads and villages and towns and countries.

Want to be part of the Girl Effect movement?

If you have a blog, you can participate this week, October 4-11, by writing a blog post for Girl Effect. Visit Tara Mohr’s website to sign up and find out how to become a Girl Effect blogger, and click here to see other bloggers and their posts.

If you join as a blogger, I’d love to hear about it! Please post a link to your blog in the comments below. Thanks, and here’s to Girl Power!

About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."

Posted on October 4, 2011, in blogs, education, girls, India, media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for alerting me to this great cause Shelley! I am fundraising for street girls in Delhi – and if I win the fundraising contest, I will personally deliver school kits (uniform, school bag, notebooks, pens and pencils) for every person who donates, to the girls. http://breathedreamgo.com/2011/10/girls-need-you/

  2. I am doing the Girl Effect campaign as well and it is so moving to see the reality of how much we can help! Thank you so much for this concisely-written and beautiful entry.

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