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A young eighteen-year-old girl boards a plane to Malawi, Africa. Excitement and trepidation fill her spirit as she spends the summer after high school graduation working with women and children in a remote village. That young girl was me and the experience in Africa, forever changed my life. Long before this trip, I had a heart to serve women and girls around the world. For the past fifteen years, this passion has shaped both my educational and career pursuits. Several years ago, I read Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This book is a compelling embodiment of the plight of women and girls around the world as well as a great tool to help people get involved. Over the past several years, I have used this book in papers, shared it with friends and have shown the documentary to countless people to raise awareness about the issues that affect women and girls.

Photo Credit: Random House
Photo Credit: Random House

In their new book, A Path Appears, Kristof and WuDunn highlight powerful stories of people who are making a difference. The book shows the courage of young people, including the late Rachel Beckwith whose determination both in life and after her death inspired others to provide clean water to villages in rural Ethiopia through charity:water. Other stories include Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner, a young couple who work to empower girls through education in Kenya’s Kibera slum. Through numerous illustrations they also display a picture of poverty in America. They champion every day people who are working to combat issues of trafficking, poor education, illiteracy and substance abuse addictions.

After graduating with my Master’s in International Development at the age of twenty-six, I boarded another plane to serve in Uganda and then eventually in India. I approached my work with youthful zeal and an idealist exuberance. I have met many wonderful women and girls creating change in their communities. I have written about some of my experiences working with women and girls on this platform. Like Nicholas and Sheryl, I have also seen when projects fail and lack a meaningful impact on people’s lives. In Uganda, I watched food programs for children and agricultural programs for communities struggle to take root and be successful. In India, I have seen many wells intended to empower women and communities broken and dry. In contrast, I have also seen the positive impact made by organizations and brave women who daily choose to listen to their communities. These organizations and women work from the ground up. I have witnessed the happiness of women who have worked together to provide clean water for their community. As a young person, I have known both failures and joys in order to understand the complex nature of charity, social good, field work and human development.

The question is: How can young people make an effective impact for women and girls around the world?

Kristof and WuDunn candidly share their triumphs and failures in relation to working with communities and empowering women and girls. They uncover the inevitable challenges related to charitable giving, organizational management and the importance of measuring impact. This book is full of engaging statistics related both to poverty here in the United States and other parts of the world. Stories and illustrations help to solidify the issues and show how we can work together

Photo Credit: Random House
Photo Credit: Random House

for global change. Kristof and WuDunn give their readers a plethora of practical tips and advice on how to approach charitable giving, social entrepreneurship, social good, philanthropy and organizational management.

As a young person, I understand many of the challenges and debates posited in this book. I believe it is time to take action and think about how our giving, social good and international development affects women and girls around the world. This may simply require you to try, learn and try again. A Path Appears is a true conversation starter. It serves as a platform to learn from others triumphs and challenges in order to begin examining effective ways to empower women, girls and entire communities. A Path Appears is available now for pre-order and the book will be released on September 23rd, 2014.

Want to be a part of the conversation?

Join our interactive G+ Hangout on Sept. 25, 11amEDT as we chat with Nicholas Kristof about his new book A Path Appears. Tweet your questions to #AskNick and learn how you can effectively impact women and girls around the world.

September 21st-26th Girls’ Globe will be in New York for the 2014 UN General Assembly. We are partnering with FHI360, Johnson & Johnson, and Women Deliver in support of Every Woman Every Child to amplify the global conversation on the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda. Follow #MDG456Live, raise your voice and join the conversation to advance women’s and children’s health. Sign up for the Daily Delivery to receive live crowd-sourced coverage of these issues directly to your inbox.

Cover photo credit: David Woo, Flickr Creative Commons

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