The day after my sons promotion to middle school I received a reminder that not every child has access to an education. Many of those that aren’t in school are girls. I read something back in college in one of my core classes about how if you educate a girl, you in turn educate a family. By educating a girl, you often break the cycle of poverty. By educating a girl, you lift her up to opportunities.
“The world will never realize 100 per cent of its goals if 50 per cent of its people cannot realise their full potential. When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all.” UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon
I’m not sure why, but the handful of people in my life that have been catalyst for change and empowerment have actually been males:
- From my husband who encouraged me to finish my degree (backing me by supporting me emotionally, academically and financially) as a new mother. The endless homework, meeting for group projects and commuting to campus meant a lot of time away from him and the kids. He balanced a full time job and two boys never once making me feel guilty, but only a proud partner. He also fully supports my choice to work inside or out of our home.
- My male college professor and mentor who reminded me and encouraged me to make use of the talents I have. He embraced the “different” ways I approached projects and celebrated my achievements. He nudged me to find my voice again not only for myself but others.
- My Dad who would pass by the hospital where I was born with me in the car and every.single.time. say, “There’s where the first female president was born- if she chooses to be.”
- In addition to a few male friends, a theatre director and dance teacher- again, all males, that had such a strong belief in me and my abilities in addition to sticking up for me at times. To this day, I know they played a big part in who I am.
I wish there were more women I could recall stories of support and encouragement from. As a mother who is rearing two boys, I know the important task I have at hand. I cannot merely rear my boys by enrolling them in good schools and give them access to experiences that shape them. I must also rear them to identify when their female counter parts may need someone to be their advocate, remind them of their worth after this society tries to knock them down and help them find their footing at the table. While leaning in is great, far too many women aren’t even in the position to lean-in. Nor do they have the education, financial security and privilege to do so. That’s where education and our boys that grow up to be men come into play.
The leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies are about to meet. On the agenda: the 130 million girls not in school. Speak up and add your name to tell our leaders that this is not acceptable.