This past month NPR has been doing a segment called #15girls where they look at what it means to be a 15 year old girl around the world. They focused on things like access to education, society's view of girls, and marriage (yes, there are still child brides and no, it's not just other countries). In many countries, having a daughter is seen as a burden which is why places like China and India are missing about 37 million girls. To say the least, it's tough being a girl, especially in a society that prizes baby boys far more than resource-draining baby girls. But us ladies have a lot to contribute, no matter where we live, if given the opportunity.
5 reasons to invest in girls' futures:
NPR's October-long segment was - to say the very least - illuminating, both in the best and worst ways. I've pulled 5 key reasons to invest in girls, not only for their sake, but for the world's.
1. Women make up half of the world's population (crazy, right?) and if you use the transitive property that means that we make up half of the workforce. In countries where they have laws against women working, they are literally losing out on 50% of their potential GDP. By investing in job training for women, the world would be investing in economic improvement.
2. Women bring life in to the world! Women sacrifice so much of their time, health, and livelihood for tiny humans. Creating life should not have to be a death sentence for the woman or child. By investing in maternal and prenatal care, especially in developing countries, the world is investing in future generations.
3. Women are tough. In some countries, the very thing that makes you biologically female is seen as a shameful occurance and girls are effectively banished for the entire week that they are menstruating. There are current efforts to attack the stigma behind this natural process in the hopes that when girls in India turn 15, for example, the onset of this development won't have been the first time they've ever talked about it. By investing in girls' education - even of their own bodies -, they have a much better chance of avoiding harmful infection and emotional distress.
4. Women make great leaders. We are communicative, empathetic, warm, and provide balancing perspectives. If more women were in elite governmental positions, many believe that the world would be a more peaceful place. But in order to be a good leader, you need to be instilled with confidence. By investing in girls and giving them opportunity to step up, with increased acceptance to do so in their families, then schools and the workforce, the world is facilitating more well-rounded leadership.
5. Women are also great in business. A Catalyst study revealed that companies with 3 or more female directors grossly outperformed those with little to no female directorship. Some research claims show an increased level of creativity, care, and calculation in women - all of which are much-needed skills to be a successful entrepreneur or business(wo)man. By investing in programs to teach women relevant business skills, the world is creating more effective companies.
Gender Equality is #5 of the Global Goals.
Women are capable of so many great things, but many societies continue to tell them 'no'. We need to change that for the next generation and start investing in girls and young women around the globe. If we do this, I truly believe the world would be a much better, much safer, much more loving place.
See here what girls and women around the world said about what is hardest about being 15.