A MESSAGE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
In 2013 when Shameema and I founded Leave No Girl Behind International, part of our journey has been to answer a question that has been asked to us more than once in the past few years: Why girls? Why empower girls specifically? Are all genders not equally important?
My answer has been a resounding YES! All genders are important and all children are important, and while we are a girls’ empowerment organisation, our programs benefit all children who participate in them. If you work with youth of other genders, all our programs can be applied to all genders, all cultures and all countries. The Six Principles of Leave No Girl Behind on which our teachings are based, are gender neutral.
The commitment we have at Leave No Girl Behind is a commitment to equality in all its forms. We are a girls’ empowerment organisation because when a girl is empowered, the world benefits. We focus on girls as the solution to empowerment of all genders worldwide.
- According to a Mckinsey Global Institute report in 2015, if women in every country played an identical role in markets to men, as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, could be added to the global economy by 2025.1
- A child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to survive past the age of 5 than a child born to an illiterate woman.2
- A single year of primary school has been shown to increase women’s wages later in life by 10 percent to 20 percent, while the returns to female secondary education are between 15 percent and 25 percent.3
There are many countries worldwide where girls and boys don’t start life on a level playing field; where the basic right to live, own her body or have an education, is a luxury for a girl. I feel a calling to help change this.
We believe in empowering all girls – those girls from developing countries who are fighting for basic human rights, and those girls who may have every luxury but haven’t stepped into their full potential yet.
When we empower girls through our programs and workshops, the effects are long-term. A girl who uses her voice and steps into her own power is able to contribute to her community and to the economy of her country – if we multiply this contribution by a million empowered girls, then the impact is significant and the contribution profound. Should she decide to be a mother, a girl has a direct influence on the children she will raise – a million empowered mothers collectively give birth to an empowered nation of responsible, global citizens.
This is not a question of girls’ rights. It is a question of human rights. I am not a girls’ rights activist or a women’s rights activist. I am a human rights activist. I am a children’s rights activist.
As our world becomes more committed to gender equality, let us as a global community not only look at where we have been or how much we have yet to accomplish in the field. Let us also acknowledge the strides that have been made and build on this foundation. As a world, there is much to do before gender equality becomes fully mainstream. As an organisation, we at Leave No Girl Behind International commit to being at the helm of creating change. But we need your help too – your skills and expertise, your contributions and your ideas. If we’re going to create change, it will take all of us, of every gender, to do it.
~ Haseena Patel
Co-founder and Executive Director of Leave No Girl Behind
- UNESCO,Education Counts.
- George Psacharopoulos and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update,”Education Economics 12, no. 2 (2004): 111-34.