Shadhika Shadhika

Why We Invest in Girls

November 10, 2015

The following is a reprint of Shadhika’s CEO’s (Kim Burnett) remarks from our fall fundraisers.

A recent study found that India was the worst country for women among all the G20 nations¹. Why is this? Because extreme poverty, an entrenched patriarchal culture, and the on-going presence of the dowry system compel many poor families to see their daughters only as a burden. Thus, when forced to choose between providing for their sons or their daughters, they choose to invest what little they have in their sons. As a result, girls in India:

  • Do not get sent to school– 46 percent of women are illiterate in India
  • Don’t get enough to eat
  • Are regularly disrespected – every 5 seconds, a woman is sexually harassed in India.
  • Are kept from realizing their full potential.

Their dire economic circumstances can lead parents to unburden themselves of their daughters when the girls hit puberty. These girls find themselves forced into early marriage or sold for work – or even sex. 

Though I think we all agree that these circumstances are alarming, I know for many of us the fate of these girls seems a long way off from impacting our daily lives.

I would argue that nothing could be further from the truth.

In the last decade, our world has grown unstable as global violence and terrorism have risen.  Recent studies have shown the root causes of these threats to be poverty and injustice. But what’s the best way to combat these issues? By investing in girls.

When girls succeed, poverty is reduced, corruption is diminished, and democracy flourishes at a statistically higher rate than any other intervention.

Not investing in girls impacts all our wellbeing, even if they live half way around the world. As the world’s biggest democracy, situated in one of the most volatile regions of the world, ensuring girls succeed in India is key to this cause.

Shadhika sees the urgency of these issues for the girls we serve and for our world. For over 20 years, we have invested in girls in India so they can complete their education, become self-sufficient, and stand up for their rights. But we just don’t stop at girls. We also invest in programs that teach boys to respect women and girls because that has to be part of breaking the cycle of violence.

The success of the young women we serve has taught us that when we invest in them, when we give them the tools they need to succeed, they will do the rest. They will become the change they want to see in India.  Their success will impact their siblings, their parents, their communities, and eventually their own children and their families. They will help make our world more fair and secure.

Which is why, at Shadhika, we say, “Invest in a girl, she’ll do the rest.”

¹ “The best and worst G20 countries for Women”, Thomas Reuters Foundation, 2012

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