Want a Better World? Educate the Girls

When I was in Sudan, I met a sweet 12-year-old girl named Hanna. I asked her the same question I ask most kids:  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Without pausing to think, Hanna said, “A doctor.”  When I asked her why, she said, “Because everyone I know is sick.  Or dead.”

Hanna gets up every morning before dawn so she can get a head start on collecting firewood to sell.  Unfortunately, few in her village have the wherewithal to pay for firewood.  But she does trade the wood for food.  And each week she gives some to the woman down the dirt road in exchange for reading lessons.  That’s as much education as Hanna has.  But it’s way more than any other girl she knows.

Hanna’s mother doesn’t understand her daughter.  She wants her at home gathering and selling firewood.  “We need the food she gets,” she explained.  She also needs Hanna to help care for her three younger brothers.  She cannot see how an educated daughter can be of any help to the family.

But the fact is, education can break the cycle of poverty.  Because for every year a girl attends secondary school, her future earnings are 10 to 20 percent higher.

The very best possible investment for ending poverty?  According to the World Bank, it is educating girls.  So, let’s do it!

“Dream the impossible and go out and make it happen.  I walked on the moon.  What can’t you do?”

~ Astronaut Gene Cernan~


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