March 8th, International Women's Day, a day dedicated to the history, challenges, progress, and achievements of women everywhere. As an organization dedicated to sending girls to school, we thought we'd ask the question, "why girls?"
How can we help the most people, make sure scholarships are being served to the children most in need, and lay the foundation for a more stable future for all Liberians?
In Liberia, and around the world, girls are often victims to domestic and sexual violence, women are the least likely to have access to power, and girls are more likely to be left behind their male peers. For example, two thirds of illiterate adults are women. This is incredible for a world-wide statistic. More incredible, this statistic has not changed in 20 years.
graphic by More than Me volunteer Elizabeth Erickson
The challenges are clear. Women have to deal with being ignored by education systems, with potentially dangerous child births, and with disease. These are huge problems to overcome and many of them result from systemic inequities that are themselves due to large issues that can not be easily solved. There is one way to help improve the lives of girls and women and their communities. It is proven, effective, and, as mentioned before, somewhat cost effective: education.
Women reinvest 90 percent of their income in their families versus 30 to 40 percent for men. In fact, the World Bank has stated that, "Low investment in female education also reduces a country's overall output." Educating women is an efficient use of charitable dollars. While working for the World Bank, Harvard professor Larry Summers, wrote, "Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world."
Of course, educating girls is good for the girls themselves. The Council on Foreign Relations, found that, "An extra year of a woman’s education has been shown to reduce the risk that her children will die in infancy by 5 – 10 percent." UNESCO reports that in Liberia, women with secondary school education are more than 20 percent more likely to give their children vaccinations.
Why girls? More than Me focuses on giving scholarships to the girls of West Point, one of the worst slums in Liberia, because it means more than just learning how to read and write. For girls like Abigail and Esther, Grace and Elizabeth, an education is not just a way to get off the street and avoid the dangers this presents. Education is a way to help their families, their futures, and their country.
Spread the word on International Women's Day. Post the above infographic to your Twitter and Facebook pages. Post links in the comments of this blog about events and stories you find. Education is not just about sending girls to school, but also learning something along the way.