I am lucky. I received a university education which my parents paid for, I have a job, am independent and can take care of my own expenses, 27 years old and not a mother as yet, by choice. Many girls in the developing world are not that lucky.
“Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 per cent are girls. ” (Source: Human Rights Watch, “Promises Broken: An Assessment of Children’s Rights on the 10th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/crp/promises/education.html [December 1999])
Girls like Kidan do not get the opportunity to go to school, are married young, get pregnant and the cycle of poverty continues.
“When a girl in the developing world received seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.” (Source: United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990)
Although I have been lucky enough to have been provided with an education, I too live in a developing country and though the magnitude of our problems does not compare because of sheer numbers as I live on a small island (Jamaica) compared to other countries in for e.g. Africa, we too have our problems. We still have issues with teenage pregnancy that arise because of poverty. And while no formal “marriage” takes place, a girl is often “sacrificed” to make things better economically for her family by being sent to be with an older man with means. There is also the issue of human trafficking of adolescent girls who sometimes end up becoming a part of the sex trade.
“An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 per cent. An extra year of secondary school: 15-25 per cent.” (Source: George Psacharopoulus and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update,” Policy Working Paper 2881 [Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002].)
“When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 per cent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 per cent for a man.” (Source: Chris Fortson, “Women’s Rights Vital for Developing World,” Yale News Daily 2003)
Girls rock! and as Beyonce put it "Who run the world? Girls!" Girls like Sanchita and Anita who refused to conform to the status quo and are now making a difference in the lives of their families and their communities.But it should not have to be so difficult to be able to do what many other girls elsewhere in the world and in our own countries take for granted i.e. getting an education and everything that follows.The clock is ticking... What are you going to do? We will soon have a new political leader, will we make sure that they do what is required to keep our girls out of poverty? Have they looked at the economic benefits of empowering our girls? Will we help keep a girl in school? Will we help a girl to "buy a cow" or whatever the equivalent is for her in her country? The Girl Effect, n. The unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.