Friday, December 10, 2010

The Girl Effect

Why do we do what we do here in Niger? Our newest program is running the Girls at Risk School that I’ve previously talked about. Child marriage is out of control here in Niger and we have seen first hand it’s devastating effects. Young girls forced into prostitution to make ends meet and bring money home, often told to not come home (by their parents!) until they make a certain quota.

Many people have written on this topic. In my words and some of theirs as well, here is a summary of the problem. Want to join forces with us and pray for one of these girls in our school? Let me know. We can use all the prayer warriors we can get!


Child marriage is the manifestation of a girl’s powerlessness. No girl under 18, but especially as young as 11 should be allowed to marry. Girls need national laws that will prevent child marriage and viable alternatives.  I know the most powerful alternative to powerlessness for young girls.


So here is what we KNOW to be true- When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. Education is the route to power. An educated girl is more likely to earn greater income, raise a smaller family, have healthier children, participate in political processes, and send her own children to school. An educated girl also is less likely to become infected with HIVInvesting in girls makes economic sense. When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.

There are millions of young girls all around the world that cannot attend school and its heartbreaking when you think of all of that untapped energy and potential. A conservative estimate shows 75 million children who should be in primary school are not, and at least 55 percent of those – nearly 41 million children – are girls. We have seen this statistic at work here in Niger in our village school program as well as the National schools around us in the community.



41 million girls who should be in school are not. 41 million girls who should be getting a chance to learn, to grow, to gain valuable knowledge to lead a healthier life are not getting that chance. But why?

There are many reasons why girls  do not attend school:

  • Families in developing countries often rely on their daughters to be caregivers, homemakers and labourers. When an 8 year old is needed to bring in income then her learning to read becomes a luxury. She cleans the house, cares for siblings and cooks most all the meals.
  • Girls may not be safe or secure at school, and families fear for their welfare. How often do we hear in third world countries where little girls are attacked on their way to school?
  • Poor families struggle to prioritize their meager resources to pay for books, uniforms, supplies and school fees. We can all understand how food takes the priority right?
  • Civil conflicts, natural disasters and chronic diseases like HIV & AIDS force families to shift their focus from learning to more urgent, basic needs like food and shelter.
  • Young mothers stay home and care for their children instead of going to school.

*Source: Center for Global Development



This is not a whim, something that happens by chance. Girls around the world face a systematic denial of their right to education. In addition to the loss of opportunity for each individual child, denying education to girls corresponds to lower family incomes, higher maternal and child mortality. Girls truly have the power to change the world, and girls’ education provides perhaps the single highest return on investment in the developing world.

Girls are strong and powerful.

I am not the only one who believes in the power of girls.  This post is one of many happening in honor of the bold and beautiful spirit which is birthed in every girl on earth.  Go here to learn more about the campaign and read many other posts about this issue.

Start with a girl and transform a community.


Want to join our endeavour? Our school has 60 girls. There are other projects out there, other ways to get involved, even in your own community. The important thing is to do something!


1 comment :

Anonymous said...

It is so wonderful to see your parents there with you!! Have a Merry Christmas. Enjoy your all deserve it!

Love Jenn S.