When a girl is born, before they’ve made any decisions or decided who they want to be, their life is dramatically altered. Because despite huge advancements, a girl will still be less likely to step foot into a high-school classroom than her make counterparts, 48% of women (and girls) who are married or in a union will not be the one making decisions about their most basic rights, and there remains a 1 in 5 chance that they will experience violence at the hands of their partner. These aren’t just the statistics from a few developing countries, these are the current GLOBAL statistics.
On International Day of the Girl, we’re reflecting on how our world can change when women and girls are empowered, and how we’re taking steps towards achieving gender equality.
The theme of this year is With Her: A Skilled Girl Workforce, because a quarter of young people, the majority female, are currently unemployed and not engaged in education. Despite the many challenges girls face, we still hear amazing stories worldwide of what happens in communities where girls and women become actively engaged as empowered members of their community.
750 million women under the age of 18 are married, meaning we have many young mothers raising children whilst they’re still growing up themselves. But what we’ve discovered is that when women are empowered to make household choices, their families benefit. They’re more likely to make decisions that will positively change the pathways of their family’s future, like prioritising healthcare and education. An incredible statistic from OECD shows that when a female has greater control over her family’s money, her children will be 20% more likely to survive. When we invest in females and mothers through our Public Health and Education programs, not just 1, but many lives are changed.
When girls and women are empowered and educated, huge economic growth occurs. It is projected that by having equal participation of men and women in the labour force, our GDP would increase by a minimum $12 trillion by 2025, with the potential to increase by a huge $28 trillion. Given that the current world GDP is estimated at $75 trillion, it’s clear that the equal participation of women in the labour force is an unmatchable force for economic development.
When women are empowered through education, their knowledge, skills and self-confidence is increased, providing them the ability to fully participate in society. Women form communities that allow them to create change and teach each other and younger generations essential skills. When governments invest in income generation opportunities, women have shown that they can get jobs that return $7 to the economy for every dollar invested. This supports healthier families, more sustainable lifestyles and more peaceful communities.
All the data, science and statistics in the world show us that when you put power and money into the hands of women, the world changes. On top of this, history has shown us that “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation”.
At Challenges Abroad, the large majority of our leaders and participants are female. Young, intelligent and passionate girls that are changing the world by simply stepping up and showing they’re capable of. Female leaders that are working overseas with other empowered female community partners and empowering those that aren’t already, through education, health promotion, sustainable teaching and authentic relationships.
These incredible women and the incredible men that stand beside them with support and mutual respect are helping us achieve Sustainable Development Goal No. 5:
“ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere”.