By Ali Lewis, Data and Web Manager
In the February 14th issue of Time, Nancy Gibbs said “To Fight Poverty, Invest in Girls.” In the article, Gibbs tells us that in developing countries a girl can be married by the time she’s 10, or “tending house, cooking, cleaning” by the time she’s 12. The leading cause of death of girls age 15-19 in these countries isn’t some tragic disease. It’s complications from pregnancy. It seems like it would be common knowledge: To take care of a community, you must invest in girls. The girls become the women who rear and raise the children and take care of the household. Yet, according to the article, “less than 2 cents of every development dollar goes to girls.”
Let me tell ya, all I do is invest in girls. I’ve got three of them, ages 14, 12, and 8 (hereafter referred to by their ages). All my pennies earned keep their heads sheltered, feed their growing bodies, dress them in their various styles, pay for their various activities. 14 is an over-achieving, straight A, athlete, student body president, social butterfly who never slows down. She’s had her future planned out since elementary school. She wants to go to UNC-Chapel Hill and then Harvard to become a doctor. 12 is the kindest person I know. Things don’t come as easy to her as they do her big sister, but when they come to her it’s because she’s put in the effort and earned it. She’s artistic and funny and has the bluest eyes and biggest dimples this side of the Mississippi. She doesn’t know what she wants to be, but when she finds her way, she will excel. 8 is a tiny, charismatic fireball. Everyone loves her and she loves everyone. She wants to be a scientist. When prodded about what kind of scientist she wanted to be (Me: “What kind of scientist? You can study animals or plants or people or stars or planets…” Her interruption: “Mom, can you stop? You’re annoying me.”), she didn’t know.
The point of this isn’t how amazingly fantastic my girls are. The point is, they have every possible opportunity before them. They will go every year of primary and secondary school. They can go on to college. They can study any topic. They can join the armed services. Whatever they set their sights on, it’s possible.
I admit it: My girls have everything handed to them. They work for their grades in school, and they earn the starting position on their softball team. But food, shelter, necessities, that’s all handed to them. But I believe that instead of raising spoiled, entitled girls, I’m raising confident, compassionate, independent, smart girls who will change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but the small part of the world they are connected to — whether they’re a doctor, a scientist, or a whatever.
I’m able to invest in my girls because my mom invested in me. And my girls will be able to invest in their girls when their time comes. And generation by generation, we will change, for the better, our pieces of the world.