Today is International Day of the Girl. Not only are girls today our daughters, sisters, and nieces, they are our leaders of tomorrow. They are our pipeline.
When we think about challenges such as the gender pay gap, lack of gender diversity in executive positions, or the gross underrepresentation of women in tech, we can't think about sustainable solutions without considering girls. Doing so will help us to impact the root causes that have fueled these inequalities for generations.
The good news is, working to help girls around the world thrive doesn't have to be an investment that takes many years before you see a return. That's because elevating girls has been proven to show many far-reaching benefits.
Investing in Girls Impacts More Than Just Girls
A few years ago, I traveled with a group of volunteers to Muhuru Bay, a remote village in western Kenya close to Lake Victoria. We were there for a week to teach entrepreneurship and communication skills to the students at WISER, an all-girls secondary school.
The boarding school opened in 2010 in response to a growing challenge of higher percentages of girls in the region not being able to finish secondary school. School fees, child marriage, pregnancy, and lack of supplies for menstruation were common barriers that kept girls from getting their education.
The principle that fueled the founders and donors to get involved, was that when you educate a girl, it sends a ripple effect to everyone within her sphere of influence. Entire communities prosper when girls are educated.
This has proven true at WISER. Since its inception, the school has achieved 100 percent graduation rate, and 90 percent of the graduates attend college or university. But perhaps even more impressive is the school has provided clean drinking water for the first time to more than 5,000 people in the local community and more than 800 local youth have benefited from the school's sexual and reproductive health outreach.
That's just one school in one small village in Kenya.
Imagine what kind of impact you could make by using your resources to build girls up to be the confident, transformational leaders they all have the potential of becoming.
How to Start Investing in the Well-Being of Girls
Making a difference is easier than you think. You can invest funds to organizations that are in the trenches today working to help girls around the world thrive.
You can take on a bigger role by getting involved with your time too. That may mean providing internships, training, or volunteering to mentor these young leaders. Encourage your team to take part as well.
At my old corporate job, we had a number of employee-led groups that worked to raise money for schools, coach reading and participate in career days.
When you take a bit of time to connect the dots between how helping girls is connected to your company's purpose, it will make it easier for you and your team to identify what opportunities are the best fit for your organization. That will go a long way toward rallying sustained support for the initiatives as well.
Everyone wins when girls are educated and empowered. Your company can be a part of the movement that elevates girls and the long line of lives they will touch as a result.