- People We Love
Why am I passionate about International Women’s Day? I see it like this: Gender equality is not a women’s issue. Rather, it’s a human issue. Gender equality doesn’t mean women get more. It means they don’t deserve less. We take this to heart at Children International – both in how we’re structured as an organization and in the support we provide for our kids.
I have the privilege of leading this global humanitarian organization. We help more than 200,000 children in 10 countries find a path out of poverty.
As one of the world’s most complex, but solvable, problems, poverty keeps girls and young women trapped in situations where they have no power over their own lives. I have witnessed girls and young women triumph and transform when given access to programs that develop their educational, life and leadership skills and to people who believe in them.
For girls raised in developing countries, growing up can be particularly harsh. Worldwide, 31 million girls ages 5 to 11 are out of school, and only three quarters of girls finish secondary education. The education outlook worsens in poorer countries, where only one third of girls make it that far and where the world’s highest rates of child marriage occur. In Mexico, for example, traditional gender roles play a significant factor in educational outcomes: 83% of girls (under 18) who marry drop out of school, compared to just a 15% dropout rate for unmarried girls.
Currently, more than half of the participants in most Children International programs are female, and a wide range of those programs are designed to give girls and women a fighting chance to take control of their lives and break the generational cycle of poverty. I’m especially proud that nearly 60 percent of participants in our Into Employment programs are women.
At Children International:
These volunteers (9,000 strong) are often mothers whose children are enrolled in our programs at our 67 community centers around the world. Our priority is to put the power in the hands of those we serve. We help transform volunteers from passive participants to informed and engaged agents of change. Staff members and volunteers together help children in our centers imagine a better future through programs focused on health, education, empowerment and employment. By design, our work cultivates hope, because we know poverty is no match for the persistence of a child who believes in herself.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter. You may have seen others striking the “balance pose,” like me, on social media. This action, and its corresponding hashtag, carries an important message: Creating a more gender-balanced world will make our world a better place. I couldn’t agree more!
Having grown up in Argentina and traveled to every continent, I have seen the harsh reality of poverty and gender disparity. It deprives children – particularly girls – of their fundamental rights to health, education and safety, and squanders their potential. This is not OK with me.
By shedding light on gender inequality and introducing tangible ways to fight it, together we can help balance the scale for girls around the world. At Children International, we are doing our part by providing educational scholarships, job training, leadership opportunities and reproductive health education for adolescent girls, to name a few resources that open doors for young women.
Karen N., a sponsored teen from Quito, Ecuador, striking the “balance pose.”
It’s my hope that our world will be an even better place for my children’s generation and for all children in generations to come. International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about making the world a more equal place. In doing so, ALL individuals, families, communities and economies will thrive.
Please take a moment to watch this short, inspiring CI clip about how a better future for women can start in the heart of a young girl who believes she deserves a better future.