Educating Girls

This post originally appeared on World Moms Blog February 8, 2015 as part of a three-part series supporting #aPathAppears and @SavetheChildren

malalaI have long been an advocate of girls education. It is something I want every girl, wherever she is in the world, to have access to. I deeply believe educating girls is a key piece to improving our world.

So when my daughter was born eight years ago, I committed myself to ensuring that she would always have access to and the support she needs attaining the best education my husband and I can give her.

But along with the paramount importance her education is to me, so too is her understanding of how valuable having an education is and how lucky she is to have safe schools and many choices available to her.

But how do you impart this on an eight-year-old?

Like the majority of eight-year-olds in the US, my daughter takes for granted that she attends school five-days-a-week, Monday through Friday. But that’s not all. She also has school on Sunday, when she attends Chinese school in a neighboring town, and this one she does not take for granted…she finds it a pain.

At least she used to.

She long viewed Chinese school as a hindrance to her free-time. Though she physically only spends 90-minutes a week at Chinese school, the homework load and academic expectations far exceed that of her American school, where she spends more than 30-hours-a-week.

Whenever my daughter complained about the work load or Chinese school conflicting with social events, I found myself saying:

You have NO idea how lucky you are to have such a good education. There are girls all over the world who don’t even have ONE school to attend.

But until recently, this was a phrase delivered with little impact. That is, until my  daughter started reading her latest book: I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai.

My aunt sent this book, as well as A Long Walk to Water, for Christmas. When she unwrapped them I was thrilled because, though I love Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, here were some stories that really mattered; finally, glimpses into the REAL world; the one my daughter does not yet know.

I hoped, desperately, that she’d want to read these new books.

I was in luck.

Almost as soon as she picked up I Am Malala, she had trouble putting it down. It was filled with concepts she had trouble getting her head around: like the idea that a person could board Malala’s “school bus” with the intent to kill a student; or that having access to school was a privilege; or that the girls felt so excited and lucky to have a school to attend that often they didn’t want to leave it at the end of each day.

It had her asking all kinds of questions: about hardships and hurdles girls in other parts of the world have to face in order to get an education; about what it means to be a top student; about what sorts of sacrifices students (and their families) have to make in pursuit of education.

Reading Malala’s story is opening my daughter’s eyes to the opportunities and freedoms she takes for granted and it is giving her a deeper gratitude for what she has.

I don’t want my young children to worry about the injustices and evil out in the world but I do want them to understand better the many blessings they have and that not everyone has the same access to these opportunities.

Which is precisely why in January, when Save the Children invited a three Senior Editors from World Moms Blog to attend a private screening of Sheryl WuDunn and Nick Kristoff’s new PBS documentary, A Path Appears, I jumped at the opportunity.

When I read Kristoff and WuDunn’s first book, Half The Sky, it ignited my desire to not only gain more knowledge about the issues revealed through their investigative reporting, it also motivated me to want to help spread this knowledge through blogging and social media.

Tonight, the third and final episode of #APathAppears airs on PBS. When I attended the screening, it was episode #3 that resonated most with me.

In this episode, you will learn about Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya. But rather than showing the desperate side of life in the slums, viewers (and readers of the eponymous book) are introduced to Kennedy Odede, his wife Jessica and the organization they have built, Shining Hope for Communities(SHOFCO).

Like me, and so many others, SHOFCO knows that the pathway to hope is guided by educated girls. And hope, not desperation, is the seed that germinated within Kristoff and WuDunn, who based their reporting on this ancient Chinese proverb:

“If enough people walk in the same direction [of hope], ultimately A Path Appears.”

You also can view the PBS series, A Path Appears online, by clicking here. Or you can pick up a copy of the book by husband and wife journalists @NickKristoff and Sheryl @WuDunn.

This post originally appeared on World Moms Blog.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Carolina
    Feb 09, 2015 @ 15:12:02

    Yes, our children (and ourselves) take for granted the education and opportunities that we have access to… I’m faced with similar strugles on homework and piano practice… And my thoughts go back home to Brazil where I know so many girls struggle to get any kind of education. I love reading your chronicles and having a glimpse of how lucky your children really are to have you as a parent.


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