By Blake Landau (Blogger, What’s Your Story)
Most of us would agree that education leads to a better life. At a certain age we discover that with economic freedom comes true freedom. If a woman has her own money she has independence, she has choices, she has agency to move about as she pleases.
A woman with an education can support herself, can start a company, and decide the path of her choice.
Let’s meet Sanchita — a prime example of how with a little support and resources, girls can be entrepreneurial and start businesses for themselves and for their family.
Sanchita buys a calf for sixty U.S. dollars. She starts vegetable farming and sells milk, making enough to eat, help her brother go to school and save some for herself. She makes $7.50 per month.
Would you be surprised if I told you out of the 130 million children not in school abroad, 70% of them are girls? And you know that one out of every seven girls in developing countries marries before the age of 15?
These statistics come from The Girl Effect started three years ago with the mission to get powerful people to talk about girls. The Girl Effect is working to generate awareness about what happens to the girls who face a fate pre-determined by economic and socio-cultural circumstances beyond their control.
This video produced by The Girl Effect has been viewed over three million times:
Most of us agree that education leads to more opportunity here in the U.S. The same is true abroad. In Nicaragua, 45% of girls with no schooling are married before age 18 (versus only 16% of their educated counterparts). In Mozambique, the figures are 60% versus 10%. In Senegal, 41% versus 6%.
Mallika Thomas, a PhD student in Economics at the University of Chicago, participated in a study launched by the Center for International Development at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government on male involvement in contraception use in Zambia. She talked to me about a neighboring study on Early Education in Bangladesh, conducted by Nava Ashraf and Erica Field of Harvard University.
She found that in Lusaka, Zambia, “the best scenario for women was when they had access to contraception without requiring their husband’s knowledge.”
We talk about the difficulty of being a pregnant employee here in the U.S., but you can imagine how being a pregnant young person might be difficult elsewhere. Complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15-19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20-24, girls ages 10-14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15-19 are up to twice as likely worldwide.
Thomas says the problem is not just the resources to pay for school, but the fact that the costs of sending a girl to school are more than even a dowry, because the prospects in marriage for the girl decreases as she gets older.
It’s not rocket science to figure out that the girl who has access to education and entrepreneurial opportunities will make a better life for her self.
Financial independence is the only way women can escape from abuse. They can choose to not live under someone else’s rule.
A study — as noted by The Girl Effect — in India found that girls who married before age 18 were twice as likely to report being beaten, slapped or threatened by their husbands as were girls who married later.
Girls have more options when they have access to education. There is no doubt these issues are complicated. But we know women in the U.S. are more empowered when they have their own money. The same goes for women in other parts of the world.
Here’s to the entrepreneurial spirit — and The Girl Effect.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Blake Landau is a blogger, speaker and consultant living in the San Francisco. She’s worked with brands such as Verizon Wireless on social media, branding, public relations and marketing. She started her career in customer strategy building Customer Management IQ, a social networking site and online business publication. She loves her running and book clubs. Blake blogs at What’s Your Story?. Follow her on Twitter at @BlakeLandau.