Girls In the 21st Century

13 Jan Girls In the 21st Century

In 21st century America, we often find ourselves reminiscing about the strides that have been made technology, health, education and simple everyday activities.  However, as we look beyond the United States, we find all too often, large pockets of the world that are struggling to make gains in many of these areas.

While it hard to believe, and even harder to understand, many girls and women still face obstacles in receiving basic education and training so that they can enter the workforce and engage in their communities as active and contributing citizens.  In the 21st century, barriers to education still exist.  Poverty, culture, misinformation and confusion are just a few barriers, among many, that create gaps in education for girls in many areas of the world.  The statistics provide a full picture of challenges facing girls around the world:

  • 250 million adolescent girls currently live in poverty
  • 33 million adolescent girls do not attend school
  • Almost 12 million girls in Sub-Saharan Africa never get the chance to enroll in school (that’s greater than the entire population of Ohio)
  • 1 in 7 girls in developing countries marries before her 15th birthday


However, we know there are great changes when a girl or young woman receives an education.  Her life, and the lives of those around her are positively impacted:

  • A child born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to live past the age of 5
  • A woman’s earnings will be 10-20% higher for every year of school completed
  • Children with educated mothers are twice as likely to go to school


While “first world” countries are busy debating issues like school choice, charter schools, virtual schools and the like, many developing countries are struggling to organize educational systems that provide equity and access to basic education.  Documentaries such as Girl Rising and Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide have captured on film what many in the research field have documented with hard data and what many of us know intuitively:  When girls and women are properly educated and empowered to enter the work force and become actively involved in their communities, societies change. Those societies change for the better – poverty decreases, crime rates go down, sexual assaults are dramatically reduced and maternal and infant mortality rates decline.  Those societies that value education for women and empower them with opportunities to join the workforce, prosper.  Those societies thrive – and everyone in them thrives.


Don’t miss our next blog where we discuss why Girls Thinking Global was created and what we’re doing to help support organizations around the world that are providing services and support to adolescent girls and young women.


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