5 Charities that Put Girl’s Education First
In honor of women’s history month, I wanted to share about a topic that I’m very passionate about, education: specifically its importance to young girls. In my life, education has always been one of my top priorities, and is a big part of who I am. Consistently being an honor student that is active in my school community through my leadership roles in Debate and Diversity club, or my positions on the school newspaper, student council, model UN, and mock trial, I pride myself on my academic achievements. Outside of school, I am constantly trying to learn new things - whether it’s about music, languages, my writing, or staying up to date on current events - because to me the best method of self improvement is being well rounded. However, the reason I’m able to explore my interests is because I am fortunate enough to have the resources in order to afford education, let alone live in a country where education for girls has been mostly normalized. The sad reality is that the literacy rate for young girls in developing or unstable countries such as Mali and Afghanistan are as low as 32% according to a study done by UNESCO. Nearly 131 million girls around the world are missing out on school, 50% more likely to lose opportunity for education than boys, while only 55% of women join the workforce compared to 78% of men, according to CARE. In the United States, the effects of systemic racism and racial prejudice against immigrants and people of color such as myself, often put us at a disadvantage, and can be further exacerbated by one’s socioeconomic status. I myself have struggled with my identity in the past, not only as a woman of color, but as someone who is half Indian and half Mexican, often our culture can convince us that our differences don’t allow us to “fit in” anywhere. This is why education is so important to me, it has helped me through times where I felt I didn’t know myself, because regardless of race, nationality, sexuality, gender, etc. education can offer new opportunities to people from all walks of life. When you learn about the world around you, it gives you confidence in yourself through the empowerment of others like you and subjects that interest you. Every young girl should get the chance to experience the feeling of acceptance and of pride in herself, for putting herself first, which is why I’ve listed five charities below that help make this dream possible for young, disadvantaged girls.
(all of the following titles are hyperlinked to the charities)
This charity is very close to my heart, as I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the effects of its impact first hand and how much it’s grown since it was just a grassroots organization a little over 10 years ago. Lotus Petal Foundation works to provide food services and medical attention all while building schools to provide an education for underprivileged kids living in the slums in Gurgaon, India. When I was eleven, I saw the first satellite school that our charity had funded, and all the young girls and boys who were the same age as me finally had access to the education that they deserve. Now the Foundation has three schools, the Vidya Sahyog program, that strengthens pre existing government schools, and gives the children’s parents job opportunities for a more stable home life. What is really special about the curriculum is not only how dedicated the teachers are, but that they make sure to have a variety of courses from art, to music, to STEM, and even health education courses – like teaching about menstruation for young girls – which is revolutionary for a country like India that struggles with period poverty. I encourage those of you who are interested in making a difference to volunteer for or donate to this organization because the impact that Lotus Petal has had on the lives of these children is clear, and you can read alumni stories on the website
This organization focuses on girls and young women in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa where girls face acute disadvantages due to lack of infrastructure, and some of the world's highest poverty, literacy, and illness rates, with most people living a hand to mouth existence. CAMFED works with communities and government schools in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, working to break the cycle of poverty that limits young girls' education and setting a foundation for leadership, economic development, and climate action. By filling the need for schools - especially in rural communities where girls often have to travel long distances - and providing the education that these girls deserve, less girls drop out or are forced into exploitative work and/or child marriages. By giving these young girls the opportunity to have safe schooling, the next generation of girls is put at an advantage, because it truly is a ripple effect.
Malala Yousafzai has one of the most inspiring and influential stories of activism of her generation, when she survived the Taliban’s attempt on her life at only 15 years old because she defied the regime and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. Afghanistan is the only country in the world that forbids girls to go to school, and the Taliban regime’s increasing restriction against women’s education and women in general has threatened the progress that Afghan education activists have made in rebuilding the country's education system. That’s why Malala’s continued advocacy through the Malala fund is so important, not only for young girls and women under the restrictive Taliban regime in Afghanistan, but in countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Turkey, where girl’s education is an exception to the rule, rather than a right.
CARE works in 111 countries, reaching more than 174 million people through 1,600 projects that focus on everything from providing food and water, health services, education and work, climate activism, equality, and crisis aid. What first introduced me to this organization is the fact that CARE is currently one of the organizations at the forefront of providing lifesaving disaster relief and aid to the people in Turkey and Syria. However, their mission to increase access to quality education for marginalized children, specifically adolescent girls in fragile and conflict-affected settings, is truly admirable.
UNICEF is known for its many service projects like CARE, but I particularly wanted to focus on how this organization is helping to make a difference in the lives of young girls through education. By focusing on making sure girls can prioritize their education by eliminating the threat that last resort options such as child labor and/or marriage poses on their lives and making education more affordable, UNICEF helps empower girls all around the world.
Thank you for reading, and I really hope this encouraged you to support one of these amazing charities. As always, don't forget to subscribe!