I love it when things come together because of what seems like divine intervention.
Whether it was that or just dumb luck, that’s how it felt when Diana, Juliet and I came up with the idea for Girls Supporting Girls.
We were three women coming from different starting points to the same conclusion: that we wanted to take action to improve the lives of girls and women around the globe. We also wanted to impress upon our own daughters–who (like us) are so fortunate and so privileged compared to the vast majority of girls throughout the world–that they, too, have the power to stand with their peers to impact change.
For me, it started when I first heard buzz from friends and coworkers about the documentary Girl Rising, which tracks the struggles of nine girls from countries including Afghanistan, Haiti and Nepal to get an education. When I learned Diana was hosting a screening, I jumped at the chance to attend, and took my 10-year-old daughter to see it with me again a few days later. I was so moved–by both the personal stories of these brave girls and by some of the statistics mentioned in the film:
— Globally, 66 million school-age girls do not attend school.
— There are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school.
— Girls with 8 years of education are four times less likely to be married as children.
— A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5.
— Educated mothers are more than twice as likely to send their children to school.
— School is not free in over 50 countries.
— A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult.
Around the same time, Juliet invited me over to discuss a project she’d been thinking of starting to help empower girls. I shared how I was feeling after Girl Rising, and knew we had to put our collective energy to use — I just hadn’t figured out how.
Then, I heard a radio interview with John Woods about Room to Read, the nonprofit he founded to build schools and libraries in the developing world. When I heard Wood say it was possible to build a school for as little as $35,000, I knew that was something I could do with help of my friends and our daughters. Diana and Juliet each practically finished my thoughts for me when I pitched them the idea to build a school in a developing country while raising awareness locally of the need for–and power of- better education worldwide.
We love Room to Read’s mission, and we’re especially impressed with the organization’s emphasis on building co-ed schools, so boys can see first-hand that girls are equally capable and deserving of an education. We work to show our own sons the same thing, and plan to get them involved in our projects, too.
Happenstance brought us here. Now it’s time to get to work!