Due to a lot of confusion and bad information, I feel like I spend 50% of my time online ranting about inequities and trying to explain that feminism is simply the belief that women are people and that all people are equal and deserving of autonomy and opportunity. That’s it. It’s not about cutting anyone else down, or hating men, or not shaving your legs, or any of the crap that gets conflated with the word. I am a feminist and I wear pretty underwear and like pop music and cooking and Bellinis; I also like earning a living at a job I got because I was fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue an education. I like being married to the person I chose to marry at the ripe old age of 25, but I love not having babies every year (or ever again if that is my choice).
Every girl deserves to enjoy her childhood.
“But Emily,” you might say. “We don’t need feminism anymore – we’re all equal now!”
To which I say, “NOPE.” We’ve made some great strides, but there’s still a long way to go. Especially in the developing world, especially in situations of extreme poverty.
Every woman and girl deserves to choose her own life’s path, to have the opportunity for education and income and control over her fertility and family planning. Every woman deserves to choose her own partner. Every girl deserves to enjoy her childhood.
Women and girls are people, and all people have the right to a life that makes them happy, where they are healthy and in control of their destiny. For many women and girls in the world, a life of choice and education is a privilege they haven’t been extended, and though the reasons are complex the problems have solutions.
The time to help women and girls find a brighter future is now.
- An estimated 85 million children worldwide are doing hazardous 3D jobs (dirty, dangerous and degrading). For girls, this includes prostitution, domestic work in private homes, and harvesting coffee, sugar and cocoa.
- Globally, 61 per cent of female youths still cannot read or write. Poverty is a major barrier to secondary education, especially among older girls. Many are denied access to education because of early marriage and other cultural practices. Even gathering water is often a burden that prevents girls from going to school.
- Every single day, 786 women die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth – most could be prevented with access to proper nutrition and medical care.
- When 10 per cent more of its girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases an average of three per cent.
- World Vision works to protect children, especially survivors of conflicts, disasters and gender-based violence. For example, in Jordan and Lebanon, the agency is helping thousands of Syrian refugee families.
- World Vision helps girls and women access better health care in about 100 countries. In rural Tanzania, for example, the agency is teaching new moms about nutrition for their children and how to prevent diarrhea, pneumonia and HIV and AIDS.
- In Ethiopia, World Vision has launched a Literacy Boost program to make a difference in how children learn.
- Engage in fashion advocacy by gifting jewelry, scarves, T-shirts and other handcrafted accessories that fund women’s development programs. Through the World Vision Gift Catalogue, donating as little as $35 – the cost of the average blouse – can help provide a young woman with job training or school supplies for a year.
- Learn more about issues that affect girls through World Vision’s Voices for Children network.
- Arrange a screening of documentary, “Girl Rising” in your local area.
By engaging on International Day of the Girl Child, millions of vulnerable girls in the world are empowered and equipped to become strong women, like our sisters, mothers and friends. Join the conversation on Twitter at #IDG2013, and spread the word on your social networks that the time to help women and girls find a brighter future is now.