The organizations focus on helping girls who live in developing countries succeed and develop life skills through education, During the event the panel of development practitioners discussed how building real social networks through education both inside and outside the classroom, particularly for women and girls, leads to both social and financial empowerment.
Out of all the organizations that participated in the event, She’s the First I really felt connected with because I am the first of my family to graduate college. Founded by Tammy Tibbetts in Nov. 2009, She’s the First is a not-for-profit that sponsors girls’ education in the developing world, helping them be the first in their families to graduate, not just college but high school. In the process, STF fosters leadership and global awareness in young Americans, by inspiring them to lead creative fundraisers and correspond with sponsored students throughout the world. Pretty cool stuff. Their efforts shape a rising generation of well-educated global leaders, future philanthropists and cross-cultural communicators.
Christen Brandt, the director of International Operations of She’s the First and a speaker during the seminar showed us a video from one of their partners, Starfish One By One based in Guatemala. Brandt emphasized the importance that girls have positive mentors who are just like them and come from their community. One of the young girls said in the video, “If my mentor can do it, I can do it.” Girls need a constant positive influence because too often girls will go to primary school, but around age 12 its time to head off to secondary school, many do not proceed with their education. In fact, many young girls will enter the work force to provide for their family, or get married and start a family of their own. Therefore, their literacy plummets or disappears in its entirety. This positive reinforcement is something that girls aren’t accustomed to in developing countries and I would argue we are seeing it more and more in U.S. culture.
The organizations featured in the seminar are fueled by women’s/girl’s desire to give their children a better life. We have to work to change that chip in the women’s heads that has been programmed to tell them they cannot, should not or will not be anything. These changes aren’t made with the flip of a switch…unfortunately. In order to successfully accomplish this type of significant change, there needs to be community education paralleled with the education the girls are receiving. This will take time and several generations to conquer this negativity that exists in day-to-day events, the roles prescribed and engrained in our cultures and in the U.S. constant media messages.
You can donate to educate a girl in developing countries or right here in the U.S. There’s also opportunities to donate and volunteer with their partners. Fundraising more your thing, they have several ideas! My favorite? Hosting a fondue get together for my gal pals and having each bring a small donation!
What are YOU the first to do? I’m the first…
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