Last week, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, girls and their educational needs received some well-deserved attention. UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown recommended that an independent fund for the advancement of education be created, giving girls a better chance to access education.
Right on, prime minister. The number of elementary-aged girls out of school in South Asia and Africa is approximately 35 million. This number has decreased significantly in the past 15 years, but imagine what the world could be like if those 35 million girls were able to go to school?
For a girl to face the world and succeed, education is essential. In addition to the overall benefits of education -- brainpower, emancipation, self-respect, the opportunity for significantly more income and the ability to advocate for herself, teach her family what she has learned and become a change-maker in her community -- there are also more lesser known advantages to education.
Girls who are educated are also less likely to enter into a child marriage and they are three times less likely to contract HIV. Furthermore, their children are more likely to survive and they are less at risk for a life filled with violence, abuse and exploitation.
Imagine that. Our hearts broke from the story of the brutal rape and murder of Jyoti Singh on the bus in India and soared with the amazing tale of survival of Malala Yousafzai after being shot in the head by the Taliban for her advocacy of girls' education. These stories should have never taken place and educating girls and therefore, educating the world, is the absolute necessary first step.
There are fantastic organizations big and small that do their part to make this happen. My experience has been as a supporter of a smaller organization: the Josephine Charles Foundation. It's extraordinary to know that a girl who was working in the fields in rural China is now off to college -- something that will benefit her, her family, her community and her children. That's a lot of people benefitting from one girl's education.
If one small organization can make such a difference, just think of what an independent Global Fund for education could do. Gordon Brown stated, "The bottom line is that education holds the key to the development of more dynamic economies, greater social mobility, and poverty reduction. Education is the key that unlocks human potential and prepares future generations."
Lets help make sure that every child, no matter his or her gender, is given the opportunity to unlock that potential.