Happy International Day of the Girl Child!
Today we celebrate girls, near and far. We celebrate their strengths, achievements, potential and success. We also get to shine a light on some formidable obstacles girls around the world face day to day. Education is at the top of this list.
Did you know over 130,000,000 girls do not have access to education today?
No, that is not a typo. There are indeed 7 zeros in that number. This is shocking. Horrifying, really. I am thankful for organizations like ONE.org and their #girlscount campaign for bringing these statistics to light.
It is said that if you educate a girl, you educate the world. There is much truth to this:
Educated girls… are more likely to find work, are less likely to get married early (thus fighting child marriage), are less likely to have children too early, are more likely to have healthier children, are less likely to die in childbirth
But what about when you have to flee your home because of war, genocide and natural disasters? What about education in emergency situations? According to UNICEF:
- 1 in 4 of world’s out-of-school children live in crises-affected countries
- In 35 crisis-affected countries, humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises disrupted the education of 75 million children between the ages of 3 and 18.
- Over 17 million school-aged children in those countries are refugees, displaced within or outside their countries, and of these, only half attend primary school, while less than a quarter are in secondary school.
- For children who attend school during emergencies, the quality of education can be low, with an average of 70 pupils per teacher, who are often unqualified.
- Girls in conflict-affected settings are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys.
For children in emergencies, education is lifesaving. Schools give children stability and structure to help cope with the trauma they have experienced. Schools can protect children from the physical dangers around them, including abuse, exploitation and recruitment into armed groups. In many cases, schools also provide children with other lifesaving interventions, such as food, water, sanitation and health.
Parents and children affected by crisis consistently name education as one of their top priorities. Because when children get an education, despite circumstances, whole societies benefit: education can boost economic growth, reduce poverty and inequality. Education also contributes to restoring peace and stability.
This is precisely why I am so thrilled to be partnering with One Refugee Child through Somebody’s Mama today. On this special day, why not draw attention to and fund programs that will enable refugee girls (and boys) to get back into school and be given a chance to work towards a brighter future?!
One Refugee Child raises funds to improve the day-to day lives of refugee children through projects that focus on health, development and education. We believe in pragmatism. We believe in simplicity. We believe in initiating specific projects that reflect changing needs and conditions on the ground. Most importantly, we believe in bringing comfort to children in crisis.
Through identifying a dynamic set of very targeted and specific initiatives, we are able to fund projects that are most needed now; those that can have the biggest impact on refugee childrens’ day-to-day lives today. Once a project is established or completed, we adapt to the changing conditions and needs of refugee children and begin another micro-initiative. At any given time, we may have 1 to 5 projects underway, with a commitment never to dilute the meaningfulness of each project.
Through Somebody’s Mama’s funding campaign, we are hoping to raise over $10,000 to fill 15 refugee schools in Turkey with libraries consisting of 150 books each. These schools have been identified as being uniquely qualified to aid Syrian refugee children in their educational needs. Every book is a key towards unlocking a healthier, more productive life for these children.
Will you join us in making a difference in over 4500 children’s lives?
I have reached out to women and girls in my own community, photographing them with their favorite books in their favorite places in exchange for their partnership in funding a library in a refugee school in Turkey. I am fortunate to be raising my 3 girls in one of the highest performing counties in America, education wise. We are literally drowning in books, resources, libraries around here. Our education administration takes to heart the growing number of statistics identifying reading/being read to as a child as one of the most consistent markers of educational success. Reading is a BIG DEAL. And rightly so.
Girls and their books advocating for books for refugee girls. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to give back on this special day.
Here are the faces and smiles, silliness and seriousness of the girls and women in my community who do not take their education or books for granted. Books have enhanced our lives, even changed our lives at times. Books have transported us, comforted us.
We recognize how fortunate we are, and we want girls the world over to have access to books, libraries and education… just like us.