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Inside Teaching : June 2011
Inside Teaching | June 2011 FEATURE 8 Did you know that we could solve huge world problems like hunger, HIV/AIDS, poverty, illiteracy and war just by educating adolescent girls? E M I LY B R E W explains how. The world is a mess. Poverty. AIDS. Hunger. War. So what else is new? What if there was an unexpected solution? It’s not the internet. It’s not science. It’s not the government. It’s not money. It’s – dramatic pause – a girl. When a girl turns 12 and lives in poverty, her future is out of her control. She faces the reality of being married by the age of 14, pregnant by the time she’s 15. And if she survives childbirth, she might have to sell her body to support her family, which puts her at risk for contracting and spreading HIV. Not the life you imagined for a 12-year-old, right? The good news is that there’s a solution. Let’s rewind to her at 12: she stays in school, where she’s safe, and she uses her education to earn a living. She can now get a loan to buy a cow, and use the profits from the milk to help her family. She becomes a business owner who brings clean water to the village, which makes the men respect her good sense and invite her to the village council, where she convinces everyone that all girls are valuable. Soon, more girls have a chance, and the village is thriving. These girls can avoid HIV; they can marry and have children when they’re ready; and their children can be healthy too. Now imagine this continuing for generation after generation. Healthier babies. Peace. Lower rates of HIV. Food. Education. Commerce. Sanitation. Stability. Which means the economy of the entire country improves and the whole world is better off. Multiply that by 600 million girls in the developing world and you’ve just changed the course of history. It’s called the girl effect. The girl effect