“Education is the Most Powerful Weapon You Can Use to Change the World.”
For the past few months, I’ve been working for a charity, One Girl. Their mission is simple - for every girl on this planet to have the right to an education - a concept which in 2018 seems more than reasonable. However, the sad reality is that there are currently 130 million girls across the world who have been denied that right. I first learnt this horrifying fact when Michelle Obama addressed a huge audience, asking them to help her on her mission to give girls across the world access to education. What people may not realise is that the reality of giving a girl the chance to be educated is the key to solving many wider issues faced by young women and their communities.
Just one of the many examples is child brides. Currently, a girl growing up in Sierra Leone is more likely to become a child bride than she is to get an education. Just think about that. You’re eleven years old, and instead of carrying on your education, you’re about to be married to a man nearly four times your age. You’re forced to have a sexual relationship with him, carry his children, and most likely die in the process. One Girl has found that if all girls across the world were educated, it would stop two out of three child marriages - a staggering figure.
Education gives us power and freedom, and I think so many of us who have been given an education take this for granted. But whilst working for One Girl, I couldn’t help but think about my own experiences in education and further to that, how as women being intelligent isn’t always seen as the most desirable attribute. Even in the society I have grown up in, one that openly gives girls access to schooling, are we actually encouraged to use our education to its fullest?
I’m sure we have all heard of the phrase ‘dumbing yourself down’, which essentially means to appear less intelligent than you actually are. Personally, I have only ever heard this phrase applied to girls, usually with the intention of appearing more attractive to the opposite sex and to gain their attention. This may not be true for all schools, but certainly in the school I grew up in, this tactic could be seen almost on a daily basis. I’ve always found something incredibly sad about watching this and I think this boils down to how we choose to celebrate women in our culture. Who is it that our girls are looking up to and aspiring to be like? What standards are being set for men as to what attractive and successful women are? Look at women like the Kardashians. They have built an entire empire that is purely based around looking attractive for the opposite sex, to the point where Kim Kardashian, who has 119 million followers on Instagram, chose to advertise appetite suppressants to millions of young impressionable girls. It seems that although we are given the opportunity to be educated, society tells us as women that there are far more important factors to having a successful life - such as how you look.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and for me, this couldn’t be truer. For the girls that One Girl are working with, education is a life line, a chance to bring themselves and their community out of poverty and live a life that is based on their own choices. And for those of us lucky enough to have already received an education, it gives us the power to be whoever we choose to be and we should celebrate the gifts we have been given, we all have so much more to offer than just our looks.
Support young girls around the world by donating to One Girl here: https://www.doitinadress.com/customer/account/