Today is an important day to GEC, our partners and most importantly to the girls we serve. GEC exists to help ensure that the world’s most at-risk girls complete twelve years of a safe and quality education so they can enter adulthood with skills and agency. At-risk because their long walks to school can be dangerous journeys due to endemic rates of gender-based violence against girls. At-risk because they get tagged to stay home to fetch daily water or cooking firewood or care for their younger siblings, and their brothers don’t. At-risk because cultural traditions may entice them (and if that doesn’t work, force them) to partake in destructive and life-altering practices such as female genital cutting. At-risk due to patriarchal traditions of being bartered into marriage when still a child or barely an adolescent, the price often counted in cows.
More than 120 million girls worldwide are out of school. Be it societal determination or poverty-driven, they enter adulthood lacking skills, agency, and the freedom to pursue a life that hasn’t robbed them of their inalienable rights. Prior to the pandemic these numbers were declining, they are now on the rise.
Today, as I write this, drought in Tanzania and other worldly externalities have sent food prices soaring and water disappearing. I am hearing from community leaders about girls being forced to turn away from the education they were hoping for and in turn being sold for a bride price.
This is exactly why today is so important. It’s a day when the spotlight can be brightened and sharpened to shine upon the millions of girls, who given the chance, could change our world.
When communities join hands in this quest; when community leaders are supported in their efforts to realize change; when we demand that more than 2% of international aid get directed to women & girls; when we support communities going through cultural transitions; when we address issues holistically and honor complexity: we will change the world – together. And given the chance, at-risk girls become empowered and educated girls and lead the way, because we know: There’s nothing a girl can’t do.