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My daughter is about to step into young womanhood, frantically working through her final year at Loyola College in Baltimore, embarking on a nerve-wracking internship with an investment bank, and shopping with her Mom this weekend for business clothes required for a young woman on the cusp.
She’s gorgeous, smart and hard-working. But she’s also lucky, living in a country and society where the efforts of young women are valued and encouraged. Since I’ve been on a social change kick these days, I recently stumbled across a website with good intentions aimed at girls ages 15 to 24 who aren’t as lucky as my daughter. The Girl Effect is dedicated to improving the lives of young girls in our world, particularly those in developing countries. Browsing through the site is a humbling experience.
Here’s what The Girl Effect says:
Girls living in poverty are uniquely capable of creating a better future. But when a girl reaches adolescence, she reaches a crossroads. Things can go one of two ways for her — and for everyone around her.
Among other things, The Girl Effect Fact Sheet lists some disturbing statistics about girls living in developing countries:
1. More than 600 million girls live in developing countries.
2. One-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.
3. One girl in seven in developing countries marries before the age of 15.
4. Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide.
5. 75 percent of 15- to 24-year-olds living with HIV in Africa are female.
6. When a girl in a developing country receives seven or more years of education, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
You can donate money to Girl Effect, publicize its efforts (particularly on your website or blog), join its FaceBook page, and simply learn more about the imperiled future of girls on our planet.
You might want to begin by watching the Girl Effect video here.