So often in our work we focus on the one girl. It’s an idea that inspired the founding of our organisation, and of course our name. Educate that one girl. Change her life and her future. Empower her to reach her potential.
And it’s a powerful idea.
Why? Because the problems we tackle are immense. The statistics are grim. And the numbers are staggering – to the point where it can be paralysing.
Around the world over 60 million girls are denied an education. Every year more than 15 million girls around the world are forced into child marriage. Of the world’s illiterate adult population, more than two-thirds are women.
The problems we face can seem so overwhelming – and so we focus on the individual. Because it means we can tackle the problem one girl at a time.
But in reality, it’s never about just one girl. Because when we change one girl’s life – she in turn changes the lives of those around her. And when you empower one girl, she will lift others up with her.
Educated girls create a ripple effect.
The benefits of empowering one girl spread beyond herself.
An educated girl is more likely to financially independent. For every year she stays in school her income will increase between 10-25%.
Literacy plays a huge role in not only a woman’s health, but in her children’s. A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5.
Not only that, but an educated girl is more likely to pass on her education to her children. So her children will not only be healthier, but better educated too.
The more educated a woman is, the less children she is likely to have – and she’s more likely to have them when she’s older and when she chooses to do so, so that she’s more physically, emotionally, and financially able to support them. Smaller families are better for the environment, which is why educating girls can have a profound effect on climate change.
Educated women invest up to 90% of their income back into their families. That’s more money being invested into their family’s health, safety, nutrition, and education.
These statistics are incredibly powerful. They point to generational change that can happen when you start with one girl. And the truth is, we’re already seeing the ripple effect in the words and stories of the girls in our programs. These are girls who see their education and their opportunities as not merely something of their own – but something they want to use to help those around them.
“I’m very happy because when I finish my school I know I would like to be able to help other people.” – Augusta, 21.
“My older sister can read and spell because I teach her. She is not going to school but now she knows so many things.” – Florence, 15.
“I wanted to be educated so I can help my country.” – Fanta, 21.
“I’m so glad to have this opportunity. When I finish my education I want to become a doctor to help sick children. I saw Ebola destroy us, so I want to be a doctor to help people.” – Doris, 22.
Girls work together. They share. They collaborate. They listen and learn from one another. We constantly see the scholarship girls in our program mentoring each other: the older ones looking out for the younger ones. The long-term scholarship girls reaching out to the new scholars. They pass on knowledge that they’ve learned. They affirm each other’s value. They share in the journey together.
And it’s a pattern of collaboration and camaraderie that carries through when they’re older. We work with groups of women in communities through our LaunchPad program that sees women pooling the profits they make by selling sanitary pads, in a community loan and grants scheme. So they can use their collective funds to help those in their community. Empowered women, empowering women.
Educated girls become educated women. Women who are sisters, mothers, teachers, mentors, leaders, entrepreneurs, and more. Women who can wield influence in the home, in the classroom, the community, and wider society. Women who challenge the status quo, women who want to see the next generation of girls flourish and thrive.
It’s not just in our programs in Sierra Leone and Uganda that this holds true. We see it here too. We see the way One Girl’s community of supporters nurtures and attracts like-minded passionate people who want to change the world. Our Ambassador program, volunteer and staff team are full of amazing, incredible women and girls, who are there for each other, cheering each other on as we work together to create the world we want to see.
It’s a powerful testament to what we can achieve together.
Today, on International Day of the Girl, we are celebrating and highlighting the power and potential of girls everywhere.
Every single girl is capable of becoming a leader, a mentor, and a changemaker – and education gives her the opportunity to do that.
We know an educated girl can create so much positive change. But when educated girls band together – when they join forces and share knowledge, skills, and empower each other? That’s a powerful force that is going to change the world.
So there’s no better day than International Day of the Girl to celebrate girls – and even better, celebrate the power of girls working together. Call it a squad. Call it a girl gang. Call it the collective potential of global girlhood. Us? We call it an unstoppable movement.
And today, we want you to join us. Raise your voice for girls everywhere. Take action on an issue that affects girls locally, or globally. Do It In A Dress and raise funds for girls’ education. Reach out to a girl who’s inspired you, and let her know what she’s done. Or maybe you’ll be the one who inspires another girl to dream a little bigger. Do it for one girl. Do it for girls everywhere.