Adolescent Girls Hold Power To Create Global Change

Posted on August 12th, 2016 by Melissa

Cheryl because I am a girlBy Cheryl Benton, “Because I am a Girl” Private Sector Development Committee
Here are some sobering facts about girls in the developing world:

  • 65 million girls are NOT in school
  • 41,000 girls are forced into early marriages EVERY DAY
  • Childbirth is the leading cause of deaths for girls between 15-19
  • Being young and female in many areas of the world means you are denied the most basic human rights and your very life can be in peril.

Research findings from Plan International reveal that violence against girls is frighteningly pervasive – girls expect to be victims of violence, and the levels of violence that they experience are seen as ‘normal.’ They seldom feel free from violence at home, in their communities, or at school. For example, 80 per cent of girls in one area of Ecuador, and 77 per cent of girls in an area of Bangladesh, said that they ‘never’ or ‘seldom’ feel safe in their community. In West Africa, 30 per cent of girls said that they never or seldom feel as safe as boys on their way to school.
We must change this, because we know that:

  • For every 10 percent increase in female literacy, the economy can grow by 0.3 percent.
  • For every additional year of education that a young woman has, child mortality decreases by 9.5 percent.
  • And we know that when we support girls to be strong, these soon-to-be women will be able to uplift their entire families and communities.

“Because I am a Girl” Gives Girls a Brighter Future
Earlier this year, I, along with four colleagues who have worked together in a voluntary role with global organizations that are helping women and girls, was introduced to Plan International USA and a program they launched four years ago, called “Because I am a Girl.”  We were so impressed we asked how we could get more involved and help support the program. The result: we are now Plan USA’s first ever-Private Sector Development Committee. Our (voluntary) role is to build awareness of Because I am a Girl and raise funds for their programs. Let me tell you why we got so excited about their work. We hope you will get excited too and will join us by becoming a “Champion of Change.”
Because I am a Girl is changing the future of some of most marginalized and at-risk girls in the world. The programs are helping girls to “Learn, Lead, Decide and Thrive.”  It’s one of the few programs that focuses on adolescent girls with programs that enable them to realize their own power as they transition into adulthood. It also has created gender awareness programs for boys, which is also critically important. Women cannot eliminate these inequities alone. The results are life-changing, not only for these girls but for their families and communities.
Here are highlights of a few of the programs:
Ethiopia: Girls’ Empowerment Through Education – Improving access to and the quality of education for 5,000 schoolgirls outside of Addis Ababa.
Egypt: Safer Cities for Girls – Educating and empowering girls through savings and loan groups, mentoring programs and leadership training.
Sierra Leone: Girl Power – Promoting Equal Rights and Opportunities for Girls – Protecting girls and young women from gender-based violence.
Nepal: Fighting Against Child Trafficking – Preventing the practice of child trafficking through educational programming and the creation of rehabilitation centers for trafficking survivors.
El Salvador: Girls Promoting Gender Violence Reduction – Prepared 1,800 girls and 180 boys to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in their communities.
The Impact of “Because I am a Girl”
Since the program was launched in 2012, it has changed the lives of 4 million girls directly through “Because I am a Girl Programs,” 40 million boys and girls through gender awareness programs, and 400 million girls through policy changes.
Become a Champion of Change
We invite you to join us. We are building a community of women who want to support this global movement for the rights of adolescent girls. I truly believe we have a moral imperative to help these girls. If not us, who?
With your support of “Because I am a Girl”, we can change their future.  For example, a gift of $1,000 can keep 5 girls in school, and education is key to lifting girls out of poverty. Please contact me if you would like to learn more.
About Plan International
Plan International is a non-profit global development organization that has been lifting children out of poverty since 1937. Today it is a billion dollar organization, working in 50 countries, with top ratings from Charity Navigator. It is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 development groups in the world. Plan USA is one of 21 fundraising offices.

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