The girl effect
Published: 12 January 2011
The Millennium Development Goals take account with almost every layer of society in development countries, but one is often forgotten. The children. They are the first who are affected by adult conflicts. But alas, this group doesn’t fight the one communal battle. One sex is extremely discriminated: the girls.
The key problem is the status one girl has in society. When a girl turns 12 and she has survived war, hunger and natural disasters, men consider her as a real “woman”. From that moment on, male adults control her future. In foreign countries like Ethiopia for example, it’s normal a girl marries when she’s 14 and is pregnant by the time she’s 15 years old. If she survives childbirth, there’s a solid chance she has to prostitute herself so she can support her – sometimes unwanted- family. Therefore, she might endanger herself with HIV and aids. All this happens before she reaches the age of 16. And no way in hell her children have a different future ahead of them.
Just one girl can make the difference. When she has the opportunity to see a doctor once in a while, when she has a proper education and makes her own living, she controls her own life at her own pace. She isn’t forced with HIV, children and marriage until she’s a real developed woman. We can assume this girl eventually passes her wisdom with her offspring. As Robert M. Maciver (former president of the American Sociologist Association)once said: ‘When you educate a man, you educate an individual. When you educate a woman, you educate a whole family.’ Educated mothers are more likely to send their own children to school, so this positive spiral will continue generation after generation.
The ripple effect
Not everybody understands the difference one little girl can make. Everything starts with a little drop falling in a river, a little stone rolling from a hill... It starts with a little girl, but it impacts a whole world on its own. It’s not only the dare to invest in her. To invest in a girl, is an investment in the girls’ surroundings. She can convince other girls, that young females are valuable to the world.
Cherish the present
Money isn’t the main solution of poverty. Nor are politics or science. It’s the power of a girl. The girl is not the ultimate answer to everything but when she is cherished as a beautiful, delicate flower, she can accomplish more things than the gentlemen in the parliaments could be ever capable off.
Unfortunately, 99.4% of international aid money is not directed to girls. And the clock is ticking. Children are not the future. No sir, they are the present. We make their future. And it can all start with supporting one little girl.