The United Nations estimates that women account for about two-thirds of the 750 million illiterate adults in the world. Although that statistic might not sound right to Americans, internationally, women and girls are often left behind in education, health, and financial literacy. The United Nations General Assembly reserves October 11 as International Day of the Girl Child to remind people to support and nurture girls and to promote girls’ rights around the world. Here are six ways to empower the girls in your life.
Encourage the Girls Around You
Share books, movies, games, and art with girls in your circle so they see non-traditional roles where women take center stage. Encourage girls to take on leadership roles in their schools and organizations. Help girls identify gender stereotypes by questioning their ideas. “Does it seem fair that boys don’t need to clean?” “Why are girls not directed to take science classes?”
Mentor a Girl
Girls in the United States have more opportunities than some other countries, but there are still many young women who live in poverty or don’t have women role models. Encourage and influence a young woman in your community through Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girl Scouts or another organization that supports mentoring relationships.
Support New Moms
The first 1,000 days in a child’s life are the most important, but new moms often get overwhelmed. You can help moms of young children through many organizations, such as Mothers of Preschoolers or Every Mother Counts. Want to do something more local? Give a new mom a gift card for a local restaurant for meals for a few days. Buy a low-income mom diapers and other essentials.
Let Women Know You Care
Start by letting the women in your circle know you care. Write a note to the mentor who helped you in college. Take coffee to a teacher who gave you encouragement. Talk to your daughter, nieces, and sisters who help you balance your life. Let the girls in your community know that they can follow their dreams. Speak up about inappropriate comments to women. Defend women who are being harassed. Congratulate women who are succeeding.
Invest in Women and Girls
Hard-working female entrepreneurs need your support. From young girls who open their first lemonade stand to women in third-world countries who just need a microloan to get started, make an investment in women who are changing the world.
Use Your Voice
Talk to local, state, and federal leaders about legislation that helps girls get an education and stay in school. Women who complete secondary education have better jobs, marry later in life, and live longer. Support initiatives and non-profits that deliver better experiences to girls around the world. Access to clean water lets girls focus on their education instead of dragging water back to their homes each day. Simple things, such as health care or dental care, give girls more opportunities in third-world countries. It takes everyone to support these measures to get them started and to keep them established.
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