The world is broken. We know that. We also know that God has called us to bring His Kingdom on Earth, to help the poor and the needy and the lost, to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves" (Proverbs 31:8).
But the problems in this world are so many and so daunting and huge, where do we even start? The answer: girls. Take a look at these stats, courtesy of The Girl Effect:
- When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
- An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school, 15 to 25 percent.
- Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers.
- When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
Think about it: girls are future mothers, as well as future community leaders, all over the world. Invest in a girl, provide healthy food and a safe place for her to live and send her to school, and she will grow up educated and strong and healthy, capable of raising healthy children, when she is ready to have them, and able to earn her own money and lead her community wisely.
This is true in the developing world, and also in our own country. We think abortion rates are a problem, but they are only a symptom of an even worse problem: the lack of a safe, nurturing environment and quality education for far too many children. Girls who grow up in poverty, social or domestic turmoil, and in a less-than-quality school are far more likely to drop out of school and get pregnant too young, and then to abort their pregnancies. If we want to see abortion rates drop, legislation prohibiting abortion is not going to help very much; we have start at the source.
Abortion is just one issue that can be positively affected by investing in girls. Just think: if every girl in the world between the ages of five and 10 right now were living in a safe and loving home, getting healthy meals and medical care and attending school, and it was guaranteed that they would all stay that way, the world would start to look a little different in a few years. Teen pregnancy and child marriage would drop dramatically, as well as human trafficking and slavery. In 10, 15, 20 years, virtually every child born would be a wanted child, a healthy child, a loved child. Communities all over the world would be safer, stronger, healthier. The world would be better.
Sounds great, doesn't it?
But it's not that easy. There are more than 600 million girls in the developing world alone. This is a Big Job. We can't change the world all at once, but as we serve God through serving the poor, together, we can change the world one girl at a time.