Educate girls, save the world

Staff Writer
Chillicothe Times-Bulletin

I am typing this as I watch my girls looking over their homework and planning for their next day of school. I take a moment to be thankful for the abundance of opportunities that have allowed us the luxury of learning and personal growth.

But then my mind wanders to those girls who are not so fortunate - the ones who must go to work, or take care of their family, or live as slaves in this modern world. I think of Malala Yousafzai, who was attacked and shot for pursuing an education. And I think: What would be the impact of each girl receiving an education? How would things be different?

Oct. 11 is established by the United Nations as the International Day of the Girl. Why a focus on girls around the world? Today, lack of educational opportunities for girls limits our growth and leads to other negative impacts such as runaway population, sexually transmitted diseases, poverty and even death in situations of early marriage and childbirth.

Let's take a look at the facts. According to the action group girleffect.org, girls who go to school for seven years are more likely to delay marriage by four years and have on average 2.2 fewer children. Considering the world's GDP, an extra year of primary school increases girls' eventual wages by 10-20 percent. An extra year of secondary school adds up to 25 percent.

Finally, giving women the same access to non-land resources and services as men could increase yields on women's land by up to 30 percent, raise total agricultural output in developing countries by up to 4 percent, and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million. Give me a world problem, and I can show you how educating a girl can help solve it!

The film "Girl Rising" features Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez and other A-list actresses' voices. But the real stars are the nine girls from all edges of the earth who endured all barriers possible and still fought for their own education. This film is an eye-opener about the power of education for girls in every country of the world.

Gathr.us arranges the screenings all around the country and 70 tickets must be pre-sold in order to meet the minimum requirement. This minimum must be met by Oct. 29, so it is critical we all purchase our tickets now. The film will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Willow Knolls 14 theater as long as the minimum is met. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased here — http://gathr.us/screening/6190. Please, don't let this unique opportunity pass us by.

After seeing the film, I have been moved to action. My first action is to educate everyone I can about the compelling need for change and the many ways we all can become involved. Girl Up, a partner organization to the film, offers many ways in which people can get involved. I ask each of you to contact me if you would like to help in any way at Meridithfarley@hotmail.com.

— Meridith Farley is Solutions Consultant for Caterpillar in the Cat Parts Division as well as an advocate for girls' education. She lives in Morton.