Eliana and I attended a screening Friday night of a documentary produced by a team of researchers who set out to discover how to end global poverty. What they found surprised them. In every country they visited, poverty's grip could be relaxed in one generation by doing just one simple thing: sending girls to school.
Girls who go to school are healthier,
less likely to be married before the age of 15,
less likely to be sold into bonded labor or sex slavery,
and more likely to contribute to their family's earnings.
Girls who are educated grow up to become moms who make sure their sons and daughters go to school.
Children of literate moms are 50% more likely to survive past age 5!
And an extra year of education increases a girl's earning potential by 20%.
But in many countries, girls do not go to school because families cannot afford to send them or because they don't see the point. If there is money to send just one child, her brother gets to go. Far too often educating a girl is seen as a "waste of time" because her place in life is working at home (where knowing how to read and how to think are apparently unnecessary). 66 million school-aged girls are not in school today. That's fully twice as many girls as boys who are not in school.
In some heartbreaking contexts, a girl is actually forbidden to learn to read.
In a country where it's illegal not to send girls to school, this is hard for us to imagine. Women in the US not only attend school, but a great many go on to college, grad school, and beyond. Believe me, after watching this film, I do not take this privilege for granted!
If you want to be both inspired and challenged, I highly recommend Girl Rising. You can learn more at www.girlrising.com. According to a study reported by Christianity Today earlier this year, child sponsorship is the single most effective long-term development strategy. If we pair these two studies, the solution is simple. To sponsor a young girl makes schooling possible and sends a message to her family that she's worth educating. Child sponsorship can be the first step to break the cycle of poverty. So what are you waiting for? Start here.