For such a time as this, now more than ever, we need the particular strengths of women and girls for the good of all of us. At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, my experience globally and here in the U.S. is that women and girls are champions at creating caring collaboration to improve communities, whether in families, in civil society or in government. I would postulate it comes from a desire for win-win outcomes. We need more of the former and less “If I don’t win, I lose so I will do whatever it takes to win, especially if means you lose.” This seems to be the prevalent position in our Congress*.
On a global level, almost everyone agrees that investing in women and girls has immediate impact on the health and well-being of communities. But we forget, or maybe simply overlook, the importance of women’s roles in peace building. We need more women “at the table” of negotiations. Hilary Clinton has been an ardent champion of this as have former ambassador Melanne Verveer, former first lady Laura Bush with her Women’s and First Ladies Initiatives, authors and columnists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Queen Rania of Jordan and numerous others. Hats off to these and other amazing and diverse public champions for girls and women who are giving voice to such a positive global movement.
In order to take advantage of the gifts and strengths of girls, even in our own country, we must give them a chance to be “at the table.” Right now the greatest potential loss is missing our next brilliant global leader simply because she never had the opportunity to go to school. This we can fix. And thanks to a very courageous Pakistani girl named Malala and the film Girl Rising, we know what to do.
First of all, let us agree to pay attention to what is happening in our global neighborhood, raise our voices, and tell family, friends, and world leaders that all girls and boys need equal access to education. Malala has risked her life for girls’ education. Let’s stand with her and amplify her message. Secondly, find a time and place to watch the wonderful 10×10 production of Girl Rising – and take everyone you know with you. Our children need to see this! Do they understand how precious an education is to children around the world? Lastly, support organizations such as World Vision who are already active and working in communities to promote gender equity and to ensure that girls do get a chance go to school – and that it is a good education. And maybe, just maybe, if we work together, there will be less conflict in our world and in Congress!
For Strong Women, Strong World,
National Director, World Vision’s Women of Vision
*Note: Women hold only 17% of seats in Congress