Finding My Purpose in Empowering Girls
Celebrating International Day of The Girl
Kylie Schuyler, Founder and CEO
“In a rural poverty-stricken community, the difference just one educated girl makes can positively impact hundreds of lives.”
Today, we celebrate International Day of the Girl, a day declared by the United Nations to “help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”
Equal rights, access to education and overall empowerment for girls around the world became my life’s purpose after living in Asia and witnessing first-hand how the lack of education and support for young girls trapped them in poverty.
In 2006, I was volunteering with a program in Cambodia to help build schools in rural areas. We built rudimentary structures for classrooms, bought desks, hired teachers, and enrolled students, but, instead of coming in to enroll – the girls were standing outside the fences peering in longingly. I was struck with the reality that the girls were being kept home to work in the fields and do household chores. To get the girls to attend school, I helped set up a simple intervention, securing sponsorships of $10/month for girls’ families on the condition that the girl attend school daily. The results were profound. Illiterate girls without any opportunity to escape poverty were eagerly learning and aspiring to reach their dreams.
Many of these girls we first sponsored in Cambodia less than 15 years ago, went on to college and have gone back to their villages as professionals to help lead their families and villages out of poverty. In a rural poverty-stricken community, the difference just one educated girl makes can positively impact hundreds of lives.
What the World Stands to Gain
It is a known fact that educating girls helps fight poverty, maternal mortality and disease around the world. An educated girl also changes the way girls are perceived by their families and communities. When a girl can contribute to the financial well being of her family and village she will not become a child bride. She will give birth to healthy children, and is far more likely to reinvest her income in her community than men and boys.
We saw that power in Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who fought for girls’ rights to education against the Taliban and became the poster child for girl’s rights around the world. There are tens of thousands of girls like Malala in the world who are fighting for an equal and better life. They are smart, kind, curious and hopeful. They dream of something better, but the odds are against them. Misogyny, superstition, violence and poverty stand in their way. Their stories are not easy but they are stories of resilience, determination and hope. Their stories belong to not just them, but to all of us around the world who are tirelessly working for gender equality and girl empowerment.
“With a strong voice, a girl becomes an advocate for herself, her community and her future.”
How Global G.L.O.W. is Taking Action for Girls
Global G.L.O.W.’s mission is to ignite the power of women and girls as a force for global transformation. We are an incubator and accelerator of innovative ideas that ignite the power of women and girls. Global G.L.OW. launched its biggest project, the HerStory Campaign in 2014 in partnership with NY-based nonprofit LitWorld. All of our current programming for girls, across the US and around the world is under this initiative, the HerStory Campaign.
The HerStory Campaign unites girls in 27 countries to strengthen their voices and build courage and confidence in the face of adversity. We mentor girls to explore who they are, to read, write, speak up and create positive community-based action. With a strong voice, a girl becomes an advocate for herself, her community and her future. We believe that girls’ voices and actions have the power to change the world.
“Her strength has a multiplying effect. Her story makes us all strong.”
Join the Conversation!
Today, on International Day of the Girl, I encourage you to celebrate girls and the power they have to change the world. Read a story or watch a movie about a strong girl with your daughter, granddaughter, sister or girlfriend. Make a donation to any charity that serves girls, and make a commitment to yourself to do something every year to help support the global gender equity movement.
Support a girl so she feels safe to bravely share her story, to learn about the might of self-reflection, to build courage in the face of adversity, to grow the confidence to advocate for the life she wants. Because her strength has a multiplying effect. Her story makes us all strong.
Kylie Schuyler, Founder and CEO of Global G.L.O.W. (Girls Leading Our World)
Take action with the HerStory Campaign by adding your voice on social media. Click below to download our #DayoftheGirl social media toolkit for easy to share messages and images!