Recently at our Creative Women of the World (CWOW) staff meeting we challenged ourselves to each come up with our own personal mission statement to present to the group. I mulled over several ways to approach this and this is where I finally settled…
“I will live as though I have a thousand daughters, even though I have none, because every girl is my daughter and when she sees me, or engages with me, she's looking to me for how to live. So I will live, I will smile, I will laugh, I will speak, and I will pray as though her heart and soul depend on it.”
I had posted this as my status on facebook recently because for as long as I can remember, a piece of my heart has been dedicated to encouraging and cultivating self-esteem in girls. I’ve always considered myself lucky. Not just lucky, but blessed. I grew up with a mother whom I never heard say a negative thing about herself. I’ve always credited that to part of the reason why I have good self-esteem. I don’t think we realize the impact it has on young girls for them to hear us put ourselves down. I personally challenge myself to have an awareness of how I carry myself, treat myself, and talk about myself in the presence of others. You never know what tiny impressionable ears are listening…
One of the things I love most about working at CWOW is the impact we have on women’s lives. A meaningful and measurable impact. Did you know that when you invest in a developing country, if you invest in its women and girls, 90% of your investment goes back to the community?! That, to me, is a really empowering statistic! A few years ago I saw this incredible little video called “The Girl Effect”. It really struck me. Hard. In the deep places of my heart. Here is an excerpt from their website:
Here are three solid reasons why we want you to invest your time, energy and capital in an adolescent girl…
1. Girls are agents of change
They play a crucial role in solving the most persistent development problems facing the world today. By investing in their economic potential through education and by delaying child marriage and teen pregnancy, issues such as HIV and Aids can be resolved and the cycle of poverty can be broken. To learn how a girl's success is the world's success, watch the girl effect film.
2. People assume girls are being reached
They're not. The reality is that children's programs focus on 0-5 year-olds, youth programs tend to focus on males and older groups, and women's programs don't typically capture adolescent girls. Programs that do reach girls rarely address the ones most at risk. To break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, programs must be designed for, and measure the impact on, girls.
3. The cost of excluding girls is high
In India, adolescent pregnancy results in nearly $10 billion in lost potential income. In Uganda, 85% of girls leave school early, resulting in $10 billion in lost potential earnings. By delaying child marriage and early birth for one million girls, Bangladesh could potentially add $69 billion to the national income over these girls' lifetimes.
I encourage you to check out the website www.girleffect.org to learn about how we can impact our world for and through our girls. It’s one of my favorite resources. As I continue to read and learn about the oppression and violence against women around the world, especially in human trafficking situations, it stirs me. It’s tremendously hard to read graphic descriptions of what is happening to our sisters. It makes me almost sick sometimes. It is fearful and discouraging. But then I hear the rumble…it’s off in the distance, like a low growl, but I hear it. It’s the sound of strength and empowerment. And the more I read and learn, the more I hear and see women and girls all over the world fighting for change, and equality, and peace, and education, and safety, the louder that rumble gets…until it’s a roar loo loud to ignore. I can’t ignore that I was wired with a fire inside me to do what I can, however small, for our mothers, and grandmothers. For our sisters and our best friends. And for our little girls.
I hope I have a daughter someday. I hope that if I do, I can watch her grow strong, and smart, and confident, and creative. I hope that she challenges me to make this the best world it can be for her. I hope that I will live and laugh and speak and pray in a way that encourages and empowers her. But for now I will live as though I have a thousand daughters, even though I have none, because every girl is my daughter and when she sees me, or engages with me, she's looking to me for how to live. Thank you for that reminder, child. I will do my best to make you proud.
*This blog post is dedicated to my beautiful sister-in-law, Anna, who is a shining example of a mother and sister and friend.