This is my daughter on her 4th birthday:
Her biggest worries at the time had to do with how many cupcakes she could eat and which birthday present to play with next. My concerns ran a little deeper but the knowledge that comes with being born into privilege – having a roof over our heads, food on the table, and money in the bank (though it might seem like not quite enough at times) – allowed me to sleep well that night.
I can’t imagine how it feels to know the odds are stacked against my child. Malaria. War. Starvation. HIV/AIDS. No education. Marriage as a child. Likely death or fistula during childbirth if she made it that far. Trapped.
If we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem.
I read Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky last year. It changed my life. It put things in perspective. It made me want to help in a bigger way. Then Benjamin died and things got fuzzy. Sort of.
While the stories of women and girls around the world that inspired both horror and hope were no longer at the forefront of my mind, I began micro-lending through KIVA in Ben’s name. I gave to Women for Women International. I donated to Colleen Wainwright’s 50-for-50 fundraiser to support WriteGirl. Though I won’t be shaving my head, I am planning something special for my 40th birthday next March.
Then Tara Mohr’s The Girl Effect blogging campaign started and reminders flowed into my inbox, reigniting feelings, making me stop and breathe at the grand horror of it all and the simplicity of the solution. Invest in girls.
Simple. Not necessarily easy.
The money has to go to the right places, to the organizations that are really doing the work. They’re easy to find. Read Half the Sky. Visit the girl effect site. Watch the videos and absorb the statistics. Sit with yourself and listen to your heart.
Some people prefer to keep their money and efforts here in North America, feeling that we need to clean up our own back yards first. Do you feel that way? Fantastic. Do it. Do both.
Listen to your heart.
Sit with the question: If I’m not part of the solution, how am I contributing to the problem? It’s uncomfortable. It can make us angry, make us feel badly about ourselves, make us feel hopeless. But there are so many ways to light a candle.
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton
Do something because you believe you can make a difference. Do something because you want the world to be a kinder, healthier place. Do something because it will bring you joy. The world needs more joy.
And if you’re already doing it, what’s next? How can you make it bigger and better? How can you step into your own power to empower others? There are so many ways, big, small and in-between, to make a difference.
Find what’s right for you. Listen to your heart.
Then go do it.
The Girl Effect blogging campaign runs through October 11th. Feel free to join in.
Oh and by the way, if you start with a girl, boys win too, because she will re-invest in them. She will re-invest in her brothers, her father, her future sons, her entire community – in fact, she’ll re-invest 90% of what she earns. Start with a boy, and girls will not win. Boys only invest about 40% back into their families and communities.