Invest in a Better Tomorrow for All: Give to Girls on International Day of the Girl
Women account for over half (50.5%) of the population in the U.S.—yet only 3.5% of all charities aid women and girls in particular. The nonprofits that specifically serve their needs—such as reproductive health initiatives, sexual violence support and prevention organizations, and groups that work with Trans women and girls—receive a minuscule 1.9% of all U.S. charitable donations annually. In comparison, religious organizations receive 28%, education 15%, and human services 14%.
Of the small percentage of funding allocated to causes that impact women and girls, the most significant portion goes to women’s health organizations. After that, imagine how little funding is going directly to supporting just the needs of young girls. It’s time we honor our future by investing in its leaders—young girls.
When afforded opportunities and meaningful resources, girls show up for their communities and become leaders, spearheading change that benefits everyone. It follows, then, that perceptions of the value of girls shift as communities see evidence of their impact. Monetary investment is needed to spark this virtuous cycle and provide girls a pathway to higher education, programs, and mentorship support for girls. When girls are prioritized, societies change.
The fight for women’s and girls’ fundamental rights has a history that spans generations. In the U.S., we see a long legacy of hard and soft powers deprioritizing women’s issues. From women’s suffrage to the labor rights movement to the ongoing fight for women’s rights to dictate their financial and reproductive futures, women and girls have staggered on despite the odds stacked against them.
Thankfully, the world has begun to wake up to the daily issues of women and girls. We have had champions showing us all that gender equality is a fundamental right. They have included brave women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a true pioneer in fighting for women’s rights, Tarana Burke, changing the conversation around sexual misconduct, inspiring millions to come forward and say #MeToo, and figures like Megan Rapinoe, demonstrating to the world that we must not stand idly by while women and Trans athletes are mistreated and underpaid in sports.
But while public awareness has grown, it has not been reflected in charitable giving and investment. There is typically a slight uptick in donations to girl-focused charities during Women’s History Month. The impact is marginal, given the extensive gender equity work to be done.
We care enough to post about these issues on our social media channels or to engage in discourse at our dinner tables, but we fall short of turning our words into action. With urgency heightened due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, this disconnect demonstrates a clear call to action: words are no longer enough.
As the Founder and Executive Chair of Global G.L.O.W., I have seen firsthand what happens when we invest in girls. Girls not only thrive, but they also change their communities for the better, both directly through their actions and systemically by changing social norms and perceptions. In Uganda, girls are challenging period poverty by teaching their local community how to make reusable sanitary pads. Girls in Maryland dedicate their free time teaching others to grow fresh produce to fight food insecurity. In Nigeria and Sierra Leone, girls are stepping up in the face of COVID-19 and disseminating potentially lifesaving updates from the WHO.
A history of lacking investment is destined to be our extended future unless we pressure the powers that be to invest in a brighter future for girls, futures that will benefit everyone. Girls deserve the tools and support to be the exclusive agents of their own destinies. With little to no investment in the resources, programming, mentorship, and professional development necessary to confront gender inequities, how will we mitigate the gender-based violence and adversity girls face each day? How will communities and organizations combat the devastating impacts of COVID-19, period poverty, stigma, and mental health without adequate funding?
We call on foundations and governments everywhere to dedicate additional funds to girls’ development this year and on ordinary citizens to honor girls by believing and supporting the idea that they are worthy and able to lead—past one singular month.
Learn about the organizations supporting young girls throughout this country and worldwide. Honor those that fought for your rights today by investing in the people that will shape your rights tomorrow. This investment is as ethical as it is practical — show up for girls.
International Day of the Girl is Tuesday, October 11, 2022. Give. Ignite. Transform girls’ lives.