The Power of the Adolescent Girl

When the Millennium Development Goals were implemented in 2000, Naw Cynthia was an adolescent girl striving for an education with little support from her family, her country of Myanmar, or the world at large.  Today, as global leaders recently met for the United Nations General Assembly to establish new goals for 2016, the face of this agenda is an adolescent girl – a girl in school, safe, not married off, and able to aspire to follow her dreams.

The theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th is ‘the power of the adolescent girl’.  Global communities are being called upon to commit to critical investments in quality education, skills, training, access to technology and other learning initiatives that prepare girls for life, jobs, and leadership.

The world recently witnessed the courage and power of an adolescent Pakistani girl, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafazi, who fought the Taliban for her right to attend school.  Malala’s story, detailed in her book I Am Malala and her upcoming documentary, He Named Me Malala, is an inspiration for girls all around the world.

However, it is not an easy journey for adolescent girls.  Naw Cynthia was one of five children with an absent father and a mother driven to beat her children.  As a young girl, Naw Cynthia was sexually abused by her neighbor.  These abuses seriously impacted her confidence. Yet she was determined to rise above her childhood and stand tall.  She knew that a good education would be her liberator.

Now a well-educated and respected proponent of quality education and literacy in Myanmar, Naw Cynthia is working to give today’s adolescent girls a voice and to encourage them to pursue their dreams through education.

Naw Cynthia readily shares her story with adolescent girls because she wants them to be strong and to not compromise their dreams.  She tells Burmese girls “You are NOT weak.  You are strong.  Do NOT let others look down on you.  And do NOT tolerate any form of abuse or harassment.”

Like so many women who juggle multiple responsibilities, Naw Cynthia worries she is not a good mother or a good leader or a good wife.  We believe she is an outstanding role model for girls and boys.  Naw Cynthia will teach her son to treat girls with respect and to value their contribution in the world.

Girls need inspirational role models like Naw Cynthia and Malala.   With approval from Malala Foundation, Educational Empowerment is translating I Am Malala into Burmese.  Soon it will be published in Yangon so Burmese girls can read Malala’s powerful story. Educational Empowerment is proud to be an advocate for girls’ rights at this pivotal time in history.  Girls need to know they have rights and how to access them.  Let’s all celebrate the power of the adolescent girl.

To take immediate action:

  • Join Girls Globe conversation on Twitter @GirlsGlobe
  • Become a champion for girls’ and women’s rights.
  • Donate to Educational Empowerment at donate.
  • Let your voices be heard for girls worldwide!

Educational Empowerment was created by women and for women and girls. EE promotes literacy and education for children, families and communities severely affected by poverty and injustice in Myanmar. By empowering women and girls through education, we position women in Myanmar to attain their equal rights.

Please visit us at www.educationalempowerment.org & follow us on Facebook at EE, Twitter @EEmpower, and on Instagram.

Education is the Answer

Education enables girls to achieve their rights.  It empowers girls with confidence and independence.  It provides girls with a path out of poverty, and it gives girls hope for a better life. Education is a silver bullet for empowering women and girls worldwide.  Education is the ANSWER.

But girls need access to education.  The primary barriers preventing girls’ access to education are lack of schools, distance to schools, conflict, hunger and poor nutrition, school fees, disabilities, and being the ‘wrong’ gender.

Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Delta is one of the poorest-of-the-poor regions in the country.  Access to education is severely hampered by typical barriers as well as weather, geography, and natural disasters.  Cyclone Nargis wiped out 60% of the schools in the southeast portion of the Delta in 2008.  Villages in the Thabaung district are flooded half of the year from monsoons and the Delta’s low lying lands just 3m above sea level.  Children typically travel to school by boat, frequently traveling through shark-infested waters.

Transport by boat to school. Photo Credit: Melody Mociulski
Transport by boat to school.
Photo Credit: Melody Mociulski

Educational Empowerment, in collaboration with Helping the Burmese Delta, recently built a primary school in the village of Khin Tan to provide access to education for girls and boys.  We’ve all heard ‘it takes a village’.  This is especially true when constructing a school in these remote villages.  All materials must be brought in by boat and strong backs.  The school’s concrete feet, raising the level of the school floor to 10 feet to withstand flooding, is literally the first step.

Htan Kyun School Photo Credit: Melody Mociulski
Htan Kyun School
Photo Credit: Melody Mociulski

Villagers donated land for Htan Kyun School and committed to building and maintaining and nurturing this symbol of hope for their children.  Their school district is unique. Local administrators actively support education as a priority for boys and girls.  Although not yet officially government certified, Htan Kyun already has 5 teachers – 3 women and 2 men for grades 1-5.  Forty-three students are currently enrolled, and the number will grow quickly as nearby villagers learn of this glorious school.

As Malala stated at the Oslo Education Summit this week, “a child should not be kept away from the opportunity of going to school, to dream big, to aim higher, without limit.” ALL children deserve access to education.

First-ever art class, Yay Kyaw Toe district. Photo Credit: Melody Mociulski
First-ever art class, Yay Kyaw Toe district.
Photo Credit: Melody Mociulski

If you want to empower girls to achieve their rights,

  • join Girls Globe conversations on Twitter @GirlsGlobe
  • become a champion for girls’ and women’s rights
  • donate to Educational Empowerment, and
  • let your voice be heard for girls worldwide!

Educational Empowerment was created by women and for women and girls. EE promotes literacy and education for children, families and communities severely affected by poverty and injustice in Myanmar. By empowering women and girls through education, we position women in Myanmar to attain their equal rights.

Please visit us at www.educationalempowerment.org & follow us on Facebook, Twitter @EEmpower, and on Instagram.

10 Reasons To Be Thankful This Holiday Season

When reporting news of gender equality (or lack thereof), global media outlets typically focus on the negatives. This holiday season, let’s take a moment, celebrate the positives, and be thankful for forward progress.

1. Outspoken feminist celebrities like Beyoncé, Emma Watson, Amy Poehler, and Taylor Swift have helped mainstream the public conversation around gender inequities.

c/o Tumblr
c/o Tumblr

2. Since 1990, annual maternal deaths have declined by almost one half and the deaths of young children have declined from 12 million to 7.6 million in 2010.

c/o Unicef
c/o Unicef

3. Lammily (a.k.a. Normal Barbie) is challenging beauty norms and empowering young girls to embrace their individuality.

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c/o Lammily

4. Street harassment is no longer an ignored injustice.

art by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
art by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

5. Malala won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, proving once again that she is a BOSS.

tumblr_nd8nrg1wzS1qm0yhvo1_1280

6. Millennials are closing the wage gap between men and women.

money
c/o Tumblr

 7. Women know how to give incredible TED talks.

SherylSandberg
c/o TED Talks

8. Women around the world joined together to protest and raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses.

c/o New York Daily News
c/o New York Daily News

9. Elsa and Anna shattered the typical damsel-in-distress female stereotypes (not to mention box office records) in Disney’s ‘Frozen’ and have since become the new faces of female heroism for young girls.

c/o Disney
c/o Disney

10. These holiday gifts exist:

c/o WickedClothes.com
c/o WickedClothes.com

Happy holidays!

Cover image c/o ImgKid.com

Malala Day 2014: What are you #StrongerThan?

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela

Today marks the second annual Malala Day. Malala Yousafzai and two of her classmates were shot by Taliban gunman on their way to school in Pakistan in October 2012 (for being girls and for wanting to get an education). After surviving the traumatic encounter, Malala did not fear school, but instead has become a global icon for promoting pacifism and everyone’s right to education.

Malala says that the extremists fear the power of education, and courageously asks, “Let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens, and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.”

According to UNESCO, global literacy rates are on the rise, however, currently two-thirds of illiterate adults (493 million) are women. Among the 123 million illiterate youth, 76 million are female.

Even though the size of the global illiterate population is shrinking, the female proportion has remained virtually steady at 63% to 64%.

UNFPA reminds us of the far-reaching effects of educating girls. Education for girls is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty. Not only does education create opportunities for individuals, educating a girl improves her family’s opportunities and health outcomes for generations. An educated women can secure resources for her family, access to education for her children, and is less likely to have unintended births. Educating girls also generates positive social and economic development.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, “education contributes directly to the growth of national income by improving the productive capacities of the labor force.” A study of 19 developing countries found that a country’s long-term economic growth increases “by 3.7 percent for every year the adult population’s average level of schooling rises.”

Countries that have made social investments in health, family planning, and education have slower population growth and faster economic growth than countries that have not made such investments.

This Malala Day, Malala does not want us to forget that we are stronger than those who threaten the right to education. Stand with Malala and the others who are fighting for women’s education by tweeting that you are #StrongerThan.

Meet other girls like Malala who are fighting for their right to education from around the globe here:

To learn more about the importance of educating girls, watch the following TED Talks:

Visit these organization’s websites to learn about how they are working toward improving education for women and girls:

Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Michael Volpicelli

 

25,000 Women for Malala

Photo Credit: Global Partnership for Education/Sarah Beeching on Flickr
Photo Credit: Global Partnership for Education/Sarah Beeching on Flickr

October 9th marks the one year anniversary of Malala Yousafzai’s attack. To read more about Malala, her courage and her inspiring work that has followed the brutal attempt on her life, check out Girls’ Globe blogger Emma’s post: Malala Yousafzai: One Child, One Teacher, One Pen and One Book can Change the World. In the last year, Malala has become a representative for women and girls everywhere and a champion for girls’ right to education around the world.

Now it’s your turn to become a champion for girls and women.

The goal is to fund 25,000 women before October 9th, the one year anniversary of Malala’s attack.

Image: DoSomething.org
Image: DoSomething.org

DoSomething.org and Kiva have formed a partnership to honor Malala by empowering young people between the ages of 13 and 25 to help give away 25,000 micro loans of $25 to fund female entrepreneurs in Malala’s honor. You must be a new registered user on Kiva.org in order to use a $25 free loan.

The campaign aims to engage youth in the fight to end poverty by inspiring them to act and make a difference through an SMS-based platform that teaches the participants about the real-life challenges women in developing countries face, and allows participants to fund female entrepreneurs through free micro loans. This is your opportunity to be involved. 

To give out a free $25 loan and read more about how it works, visit the DoSomething.org campaign!

You can also help and support the campaign by spreading the word!

Post this on Facebook and Twitter:

@DoSomething & @Kiva have partnered to give teens $25 microloans to fund women in need to #HonorMalala. Learn more: dosomething.org/women

Stand up for Malala and women’s and girls’ rights all over the world!  #HonorMalala! Text WOMEN to 38383 now.

Breaking All Barriers to Girls' Education

Friday, July 12th, was Malala Yousafazi’s 16th birthday. Last October, Malala was shot by the Taliban for speaking out for girls’ education. They failed in their attempt to silence her. On Friday, she and students from over 80 countries lead the “United Nations Youth Takeover” with a global call to action for quality education for all children. Malala herself said:

One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.

By Oxfam East Africa c/o Laura Pannack, via Wikimedia Commons
By Oxfam East Africa c/o Laura Pannack, via Wikimedia Commons

Quality education for every child, every person, should be a right that all people have. Yet, 57 million children are not in school, while millions more are not getting quality education.

In the days after Malala’s shooting, other families and young girls were afraid to go to school, and the classrooms remained empty. While these girls eventually went back to school, and grew in number, the terror continues. In June, a university bus carrying women teachers and students in Pakistan was bombed.

But in other places around the world, these aren’t the barriers and challenges girls face in their attempts to get a quality education. Girls are consistently used as infrastructure for clean water, electricity, and childcare systems. Girls cannot attend school if they have to walk long distances to collect water for their families. Children cannot attend school if they are sick from drinking dirty water or from not having a toilet. Girls cannot attend school when they start their periods if their school does not have toilets for them to use privately. Children cannot receive quality education if they are developmentally stunted from undernutrition due to unsafe water and sanitation.

We all stand with Malala to fight for quality education for every child.

Let’s keep the momentum from Malala Day going, and continue to advocate for the defeat of all causes of this injustice. The youth at the UN Takeover urged governments to help children who are not enrolled in school. Let’s urge them, not only to end the violence against girls and schoolchildren, but also to create lasting change in education infrastructure and systems, such as school toilets and buildings, training for teachers, school books, and the barriers that prevent children from going to school in the first place. See the Girls’ Globe infographic on education.

Things you can do: 

Learn more: