WASHINGTON, D.C. – Right now, in the world, more than 250 million girls are living in poverty.
According to The Girl Declaration, a nonprofit organization working to educate girls and help end global poverty, girls were ignored in the MDGs, or millennium development goals, which expire in 2015. That’s 250 million lives unaccounted for. The goal of The Girl Declaration is to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
The Girl Declaration is the first time the international community has come together, united in one agenda for young girls, according to The Guardian.
“Girls are one of the most potent weapons against poverty. A healthy, educated, empowered adolescent girl has the unique potential to break the cycle of poverty for herself, her family and her country,” stated United Nations Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin. According to The Girl Declaration, this is the exact reason why young women should not be ignored when it comes to legislation on global poverty.
Forbes.com claims that for every extra year of primary school, the eventual wages for a girl will increase by 10-20 percent, and by 15-25 percent with an extra year of secondary school. This allows her to earn money safely and be more educated to avoid early pregnancy, the number one cause of death for young girls ages 15-19, according to The Guardian. Forbes says it’s simple: when adolescent girls are empowered, the strength in their own families and communities grows. These things are the healthy changes the world needs to see when it comes to ending global poverty.
“Seventy percent of a woman’s salary goes back into her family. If you want to tackle poverty, you help girls become women, get educated and employed,” said Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomas Reuters Foundation.
The Girl Declaration was created with 25 development organizations and includes ambitions, hopes, and dreams from more than 500 girls in 14 different countries. The Declaration had five goals for young girls and they are centered around education, health, safety, economic security, and citizenship, according to GirlsEffect.org, The Girl Declaration’s website.
The Girl Declaration will showcase goals and ideas that will ensure that girls will get the information they need in order to get safe, age-appropriate health and nutrition information. More than that, however, the founders of The Girl Declaration hope that the declaration will offer a way for adolescent girls to receive the same personal and legal freedoms as their boy counterparts. The Girl Declaration also aims to help girls by giving them information that will protect them from violence and human trafficking.
“The girl declaration is based on overwhelming evidence — that girls not only face appalling discrimination in much of the world, but they are also the most powerful potential drivers of change in their families, communities and countries,” said Maria Eitel, CEO of the Nike Foundation.
Eitel, who is also one of the coordinators of the declaration, says that listening to the voices of young girls across a global scale is important and she wants leaders in every country around the world to listen as well.
On October 11, 2013, the International Day of the Girl, Girls Effect and its partners brought the Girl Declaration to the United Nations. To make a difference in global poverty for everyone, including future generations, The Girl Declaration says that girls need to be included and prioritized in a global development agenda. Girls Effect and The Girl Declaration supporters urge people to read the declaration, sign it, and pass it around to make sure that girls are heard and empowered.
“Supporting girls to realize their rights and aspirations,” said Nigel Chapman, CEO of Plan International, “is one of the best investments we can make to end poverty.”
– Molly Mahannah