When I was a senior in high school last year, I decided to take a Global Studies class because I wanted to learn more about the big picture surrounding the challenges women and girls face in developing countries. The question I wanted to answer was, “what would it take for every girl in the world to be educated, safe, healthy, counted, and positioned to be a leader in her community?”
As I read articles for class written by scientists, professors, and other experts every week, I felt like I was getting another piece to the puzzle. We learned about how phenomena like globalization, population growth, water and food scarcity, and climate change affect our present and our future. We also debated some of the approaches such as microfinance and international aid that have been tried in order to address global challenges.
By the end of the class, I realized that the pieces I was starting to put together were just a tiny corner of a very large, very complicated puzzle. Giving a girl the opportunity to reach her full potential doesn’t just take putting her in a classroom—it also takes clean water, health care, freedom from violence, effective legal systems, a clean environment, and so much more. So how do we accomplish all that? Now that I’m in college, the challenge that this complex puzzle presents has motivated me to continue studying international issues that affect women and girls.
Around the time that I took Global Studies, I was also finishing my second term as a Girl Up Teen Advisor. I wished there was a way that other Teen Advisors and Girl Up supporters could learn everything that I had learned. That’s why this year as a Youth Champion, I have started the Girl Up Reading Club. Every month, we read an article on a different issue and then talk about it through our online forum and discussion calls. I am constantly amazed by the new ideas the other girls bring up that I had never considered. My hope is that, by learning together through the articles we read and the conversations we have, other girls will also begin to put the pieces together for themselves too. As they say, knowledge is power, and the more we understand about the world around us, the better prepared we will be to lead effective change.