I remember like it was yesterday, back in 2004, a couple of peers and I met in a little cafe in Kensington, MD. There were maybe six of us, mostly 12 years old, as well as several older African women and some community activists. We talked about the contrast between American schools and African schools that were seriously lacking in girls. We learned that millions of girls were not getting an education worldwide. We agreed that their lack of an education because of their gender is wrong. Females make up half of their world’s population. It is completely unfair that 70 million girls are not in school. We are set out to change this injustice.
We created School Girls Unite in order to raise funds and to advocate for global education for girls. We raise money to send to our sister organization in Mali, Africa, and that money pays for tuition and books to send girls to school. We also speak with Congressional legislators in America to ask for more Foreign Aid so that widespread change can occur. We have participated in the Global Campaign for Education since April 2004, which sets up meetings with members of Congress so that groups across the country can advocate for education for all boys and girls.
School Girls Unite meets several times a month to discuss current projects and what we need to do in the future. The younger members get a chance to learn entrepreneurial skills (we started off by selling pens and pencils printed with our website, www.schoolgirlsunite.org), public speaking skills (we speak with members of the community, Congress, and occasionally give presentations to groups of people with numbers into the hundreds), among other skills like DVD editing and how to write press releases. I know I’ve learned html-know-how and communication skills.
Our sister organization, Les Filles Unies pour L’Education, comprised of several high school and university young women in Mali, works with the young girls receiving an education. These young women, who live in the city of Bamako and attend different high schools and universities, are able to learn about living conditions in villages, as well as entrepreneurial and communicative skills. Les Filles Unies takes the money that School Girls Unite raises and decides how best to spend it, on books, pens, notebooks, even tutors. The young women also advocate to their government officials in order to lower school fees and to get more girls into schools. They also must speak with the mayor and village elders; they must persuade parents to send their daughters to school instead of just their sons. I lead discussions with Les Filles Unies over Skype- we pass on information and discuss issues.
We started in 2004 by sending a total of 15 girls in Mali to school. We’ve worked our way up, and there are now 70 girls in school thanks to us. We hope to continue adding more first graders each year, and we want to continue to sponsor these girls until they graduate high school. We are determined to expand into other villages and countries so that we can help girls everywhere. We hope to accomplish this with the help of our short DVD, entitled Girls Gone Activist, which we will distribute around the country in order to inform students of our cause and to motivate them to get involved. I’m confident that this will increase participation and lead to sister organizations in other countries.
Education of girls will save the world—make it smarter with more scientists to solve global warming, lawyers to make the world fairer, leaders to solve conflicts without war. I am going to make sure this happens.