130 million school-age girls throughout the world aren’t going to school today.

If they were, they would be taking a step that greatly increases their chances of growing into strong, independent women. Women who will one day be able to provide for their families, advocate for themselves and others, and participate in the formal economy. In that scenario, everybody wins.

But without an education, those critical things will be so much harder for girls to achieve. If our world is home to 130 million women without a voice or the resources to be productive citizens; what does this mean for all our futures?

At Global G.L.O.W., we’re taking action to keep girls in school by working in the most challenged communities here in the US and in 27 countries around the world. We engage girls through our innovative HerStory programming. Beginning with the LitClub for girls 10-12, then continuing with the G.L.O.W. Club for girls 13-14, and the Teen Club for girls 15-18; we mentor girls and help them realize the power of their stories and their lives. Our participants cite increased confidence and an improved outlook about their futures. We also hold local, regional, and international summits to bring girls together, lift their voices, and give them tools and support to make positive changes in their communities that have far-reaching impact.

A pillar of our programming is that we are girl-led. In a recent blog post by our founder and CEO Kylie Schuyler, she talked about the importance of actively listening to girls to learn what they need, so we can help them create solutions. After all, they are the experts on their own experiences.

When we listen to the more than 5,600 girls we work with, they share with us some of the reasons why girls in their communities leave school or fail to attend regularly. Consistently, across geographies and age groups, we hear them say that health and wellness issues can be an insurmountable barrier for girls. The particular issues vary: in many communities, there’s a lack of information, preparation, support, supplies and facilities for girls once they begin menstruating. Teen pregnancy and early marriage cause many girls to stop attending school. Sexually transmitted diseases, domestic violence, anxiety, psychological problems resulting from trauma, exhaustion, lack of nutrition, and addiction are some of the other health-related issues that regularly prevent girls from focusing on getting an education.

To break down these barriers, we’re planning a new Health & Wellness initiative at Global G.L.O.W. I’m excited that soon I’ll be able to formally announce the program. What I can tell you now is that we will work alongside girls to help them to overcome the health-related challenges they face. And there’s something you can do to help. To be most effective, we need to amplify girls’ voices so more people learn about their lives, challenges, triumphs, goals and dreams. I urge you to join us.

Follow our social media channels and add your voice to Global G.L.O.W.’s today. Share girls’ stories with your network. I’m hopeful and confident that when we all come together and get loud in support of girls’ health, wellness and education; we’re giving them a big boost toward a successful, independent future. And when that happens, the world will be a better place for everyone.

By Katie Rootlieb, Executive Director