What was the biggest challenge you faced as a girl? Perhaps like me you had health issues, or maybe a learning disability, or you were bullied at school. Maybe you came from an economically disadvantaged background, a broken home, or a dysfunctional family. Or maybe, your biggest challenge was negotiating your way through high school. Think about it and then imagine that you had to overcome these challenges not as a citizen of an affluent nation such as Australia, but as a citizen of a developing country where you are denied access to health care, education, adequate food and safety – just because you are a girl.
Recently I was invited to join the Because I am a Girl Coalition for Investment in Girls, a new alliance which aims to raise awareness about the plight of girls in developing countries and the need to break the inter-generational poverty cycle and exploitation of young women. When asked to share a personal story about the investment I received as a girl growing up in Australia, I soon realised that had I been born in the developing world, I would probably not be alive today to tell the tale.
According to the most recent State of the Worlds Girls Report, more than 50,000 babies died in Africa last year and most of these were girls. For those girls who do survive beyond their first birthday, a never-ending struggle for survival awaits.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, research suggests that the world would be a better place if these countries would just invest in girls, at least as much as they invest in boys.
Adolescent girls and young women in developing countries are potentially a major force in driving economic progress in the developing world. But they are not being given opportunities to thrive and as a result, these countries are missing out on opportunities for significant growth.
Plan’s 2009 Because I am a Girl report analysis of OECD statistics, shows that countries with the lowest number of girls in education lie at the bottom of the human development tables. Just one extra year of education increases a girls’ income by 10 to 20 per cent and because women reinvest 90 per cent of their income back into the household (as compared to men who invest only 30 – 40 per cent), educating girls results in a more prosperous community and a wealthier nation.
Educating girls makes a lot of sense because an investment in girls is an investment in nation building. This is why Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign and its supporters say: Girls can Change the World!
As a member of the Coalition for Investment in Girls I agreed to be involved in a national TV, radio and print campaign launching next month. Although I didn’t want to put my face out there, my passion for this very worthy cause is greater than any embarrassment I might experience as a result of appearing on commercial TV.
Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be blogging on this website about the activities of the Coalition for Investment in Girls and Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign. Won’t you join us and together we can change the world!
How you can Support the Because I am a Girl campaign:
- Join the Facebook Community – Help build a community united to fight for girls’ rights and help them break the poverty cycle. Join Plan’s Because I am a Girl Facebook page to keep learning and get involved or post a link to the website or campaign videos on your wall.
- Talk it up on Twitter – Stay up-to-date and share the latest information, stories and activities with your networks by following Plan’s Because I am a Girl on Twitter.
- Buy a campaign T-Shirt – Look good and feel great while telling the world that we need to invest in girls in a Fairtrade Certified Organic Cotton campaign tee.
- Share Videos – Email the campaign videos to your friends or post them to your blog or Facebook. You can also check out the latest campaign videos and learn more about the lives of girls and young women in developing countries at Plan Australia’s Channel on YouTube.
- Donate to Plan’s GirlsFund – Plan International Australia has established a GirlsFund to support efforts to identify and respond to the barriers girls face. Your donation to GirlsFund will go towards initiatives like this within priority projects that address unique obstacles faced by girls. This will help give girls every opportunity to thrive and break the poverty cycle.
- Join Children First! – When you donate regularly through Children First, your money funds Plan Australia’s priority projects that address the specific development needs of communities.