Save the Children is proud to receive a 2018 Top-Rated badge from Great Nonprofits, a rating that distinguishes our organization from the more than 1.5 million charities and nonprofits in the United States. As the holiday giving season approaches, Save the Children is proud to share this recognition with our donors, volunteers and supporters. For a comprehensive list of our Awards and Recognition, visit our website.
According to GreatNonprofits.org, the Great Nonprofits Top-Rated Awards are the only top ratings determined by people who deal directly with the charities – as donors, volunteers and recipients of aid.
We encourage you to raise visibility for our work by posting a review of your own experience with Save the Children. Visit GreatNonprofits.org or click on the button below to get started.
Here are some of the recent reviews our donors, volunteers and supporters have posted.
We have sponsored many children over the past 20+ years, have watched them grow and have witnessed the positive impact that Save the Children has in communities in the U.S. and around the world. We chose Save the Children because we knew that it was highly rated as a nonprofit and that most of the funds went to programs – and also as parents we thought it was good to be an example of giving back for our son. As these things often work out, it has been a wonderfully positive experience for us, too!
Working at Save the Children was a great experience. Everyone had a big heart and an open mind.
Save the Children is an amazing organization to work with!! I was privileged to be able to intern with such passionate people who really embody the organization’s mission and are eager to hear new ideas/input from their interns and volunteers. The entire climate at Save the Children is welcoming, innovative, and inspiring. The intern/volunteer program offers so many valuable opportunities, from workshops to networking events to meetings that we were invited to sit in on – the chances to learn more and make new connections were endless!
I have sponsored a child for two years. Save the Children keeps me informed as to how many donation helps not only this child and family, but the whole community. More of my donation goes to the child than many other charities.
I support Save the Children because of the widespread and global assistance for low income people and children. Everyone deserves a reasonable start in life. Save the Children enables them by giving them a push. They always update me via postal mail, email and text message.
Written by Carolyn Miles, President & CEO, Save the Children
Furah is a mother of four children who lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The eastern part of the country where she lives is marked by chronic poverty and decades of violence. With four children and living in a crisis-prone area, Furah wanted to avoid another pregnancy. At a Save the Children-support health facility, she was able to get an intrauterine contraceptive device to provide her with long-acting contraception. She, and others in her community, have noticed the positive benefits that family planning have brought to their community: “Children don’t get malnutrition or get sick as much as they did before the family planning program started.”
Satisfying demand for family planning services has the potential to drastically reduce maternal and child deaths. Nearly 1 in 3 maternal deaths and 1 in 5 child deaths could be averted if the 214 million women with a need for family planning were able to use modern contraceptive methods. There are also benefits to children’s education and girls’ ability to stay in school.
Save the Children delivers high impact reproductive health and family planning interventions for women and girls around the world. We do this by:
- Prioritizing the hardest to reach, including adolescents
- Improving clinical capacity and supply chains, particularly at the lowest level of service delivery
- Engaging men, women and communities to create an enabling environment for family planning use, including address inequitable gender norms
- Delivering family planning in humanitarian responses
- Advocating for supportive policies for family planning in partnership with local leaders and organizations
Our family planning programs focus on postpartum women by capitalizing on the opportunity of service integration through maternal, newborn or child care services. Using our multisector approaches and expansive reach through newborn and child health, we reach postpartum mothers through vaccinations campaigns and other touch points at the community and facility level.
In humanitarian settings, we support reproductive health services by training and mentoring frontline health providers, providing commodities and supplies, strengthening supply chains and supporting communities to increase awareness and use of reproductive health services. We deploy quickly and stay long term to deliver family planning in any setting.
Our adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights programs fill critical information and service gaps, foster the development of positive social and gender norms, build linkages to health systems and equip adolescents with the skills, information and supportive social environment needed to navigate the challenges and opportunities during this critical life stage. Our programs address barriers through facility- and community-based strategies to increase access to health services that respond to the needs of adolescents and offer a full range of contraceptive methods.
More than 50 Save the Children staff members from 16 countries will be in Kigali, Rwanda this month for the International Conference on Family Planning – where we will share our expertise and thought leadership with the international community. Together, we can all ensure mothers like Furah have the future they deserve.
To read more about how family planning saves lives, click here.
Internal Communications Manager
Save the Children in Ethiopia
November 8, 2018
In a small rural village in West Showa, Ethiopia, lives 10-year-old Kebene. Now in 3rd grade, she tells me her favorite subjects are Science and Oromiffa, the study of the local language. Most families work as subsistence farmers, although parents hope for better lives for their children.
In this area, subjects like menstruation, reproductive health and family planning were traditionally not openly discussed by parents with their children, even considered taboo. Girls would be completely unprepared when getting their first period. They would run home from school, embarrassed and unsure of what to do.
Luckily, teachers like Getaneh are working hard to prepare students like Kebene for the challenges of adolescence.
“We help them to prepare for the changes they start to experience,” says Getaneh.
He acts as point person for the community, working with Save the Children staff to ensure he and the other teachers learn how to discuss health matters with adolescents related to their reproductive and personal health skills, in particular issues that affect girls.
In addition to training teachers, students are able to discuss harmful traditional practices, like early marriage or female genital mutilation, in a more comfortable and open setting – such as outdoors sitting in a group with peers and friends.
Getaneh learned that even though she was still just 10, Kebene’s father already had plans to marry her off to someone she had never met.
Luckily, thanks to the adolescent development programs now available at her school, she considered early marriage as something harmful, that restricted her from experiencing childhood and having choices in shaping her future as an adult.
“I am too young to marry and I don’t want that to happen to me. All I need is to continue my education and become a Science teacher in the future.”
Kebene went to her school director for help, and now he and Getaneh are working to invite her father to discussions at the school, as well as meeting with community elders and local administration to help convince her father to change his mind. Though they are still meeting with him, they are confident they will soon receive the good news that she will be able to continue with her education.
Kebene and her friends can now learn how to educate their families about why these traditions are detrimental to both their lives as children as well as the future of their village. By discussing these issues, they raise awareness on how they feel about their rights as children and as girls. In this way, knowledge is cascaded through the community.
Thanks to sponsorship, now that these topics are taught at schools in child-friendly and relaxed settings, girls no longer feel too ashamed to go to class or fear speaking up about their hopes and goals.
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.
Md. Hasan Iqbal
Deputy Manager, Sponsorship Communication and Data Quality
Save the Children in Bangladesh
October 29, 2018
18-year-old Priyanka is in tenth grade in Meherpur, Bangladesh. She is confident after finishing her final exams next year, she will be the first member of her family to go to college.
Her mother works maintaining their home for her and her two siblings, a brother and a sister, while her father resells wholesale fish for a small profit at their local market. Neither of her parents were able to finish their education or attend college, and like many families in this poverty-stricken area, they struggle to provide for their children’s basic needs, like food and clothing, on a daily basis.
In this part of Bangladesh, usually only about half of students complete their primary education, and even those that did could not read fluently. Traditional practices like early marriage affected over 70% of girls between the ages of 12 to 15, further limiting the amount of children finishing their education. Schools were not friendly places for children to learn, with physical punishment still used in some classrooms and not enough learning materials for the students to get a good quality education. Mechanisms for reporting abuse like child labor or trafficking were insufficient or not utilized properly by parents, children and community members.
Priyanka first joined sponsorship 10 years ago, in 2008 when she was just 8 years old, and has steadily seen changes related to the attention given to children’s rights as she’s gotten older. Now as a young adult, Priyanka not only continues to benefit from sponsorship programs herself by participating in a group called the National Children’s Task Force, or NCTF, but also helps to spread those benefits to even more children in need.
The NCTF was created by the government because of a national initiative to prevent the abuse of children, and to provide a forum for children themselves to communicate issues related to children’s rights to the government. Save the Children supports in providing NCTF child participants with trainings on how to communicate with the government through this forum, report abuse and lead discussions with their fellow students. Save the Children also helped children like Priyanka set up a website platform to share news related to children’s issues online. In this way, citizens are held accountable for reporting instances of abuse and the government is held accountable to take action after reports have been received.
In this role, Priyanka acts as a leader amongst her peers, encouraging conversation related to the challenges or abuse children face in their communities and at school. For example, she works to increase awareness with her fellow students about how child marriage increases dropout rates for girls, and lowers their academic achievements. She hosts weekly discussions with the other kids and listens to their difficulties at school or at home, such as how they feel about the condition of their classroom, and shares her findings directly with government representatives every month. In this way, Priyanka not only helps report children’s rights issues to the government herself, but also spreads awareness on how to report child abuse amongst her peers.
Sponsorship also helped Priyanka learn how to communicate the needs of her school in the National Children’s Task Force. She shares “Our school did not have enough classrooms or computer labs. I informed a local member of parliament of the problem, and finally we have got labs and classrooms.”
She even received a national scholarship award for her talent and leadership qualities.
Mohan, Pranaka’s father, shared how inspired and impressed he was by the leadership skills seen blossoming in his daughter.
Priyanka added thoughtfully, “When I was young, my village had many problems. Now, many changes happened through awareness. After Save the Children leaves our village, the knowledge and consciousness will remain with us forever.’’
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.
“How many of you were married before the age of 18?” This was the first question I asked the mothers I met in the Duhok refugee camp in Iraq, near the Syrian border. Of the 10 or so moms gathered in the Save the Children center, only one raised her hand. However, the reality for Syrian girls in refugee camps now is very different.
Save the Children research in 2014 showed that the rate of marriage for Syrian refugee girls rose to 25%. This is a relatively new phenomena for Syrian families, as the rate of early marriage prior to the start of the bitter civil war that has raged for more than seven years was only 13%. We want these moms who had gathered that morning in the Save the Children facility to continue to help us stop what was happening in the camp.
Early marriage is something Save the Children is working on in places like Nepal, Bangladesh, and Niger. It is an ender of many things for young girls – an ender to their education, an ender to many of their dreams, and, sadly, an ender to their lives in some cases. A girl married before the age of 18 is three times more likely to drop out of school. Girls married at an early age are more likely to have children at an early age. Sadly as a result, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death among girls 15–19 years old. Their children are also more likely to be under weight and have complications during birth. A child having a child is rarely a healthy way to start a family.
A mom named Fatima explained that sometimes families are living in such poverty that the chance to have another family take on the responsibility of food and shelter for a young girl is too much of an opportunity to pass on. Girls are still seen as a “cost” to families with little recognition that girls can go on to become wage earners for the family if they get a basic education and are allowed to seek work outside the home. Sometimes, families are worried that their teenage girls will become pregnant before they are married and see an arranged early marriage as a way to avoid such a shameful event. And in some cases dowries will be paid and there is an economic incentive to marry off daughters to benefit the rest of the family.
All these factors point to an underlying reality in many parts of the world – that girls are just not valued as people in the same way that boys are. The mothers I met are trying to change that outlook, one family at a time. They celebrated International Day of the Girl in the Duhok camp in mid-October by speaking to their neighbors about the harmful practice of early marriage, meeting face-to-face with other mothers and working to convince them that early marriage is not the best path for their girls. Instead, they should stay in school and get an education. For these women, they had so many more opportunities before choosing to marry and have children. One mother named Adima who was sitting next to me admitted this was hard work, but that they were dedicated to making it happen.
As we talked, my admiration for these mothers grew – even in the midst of a refugee camp, with very basic shelter, with food still rationed out to families, where many had been living for years, these women had a passion for their children that shone through. They recognized that girls did have the right to choose their own path and that the new tradition of early marriage was not in the best interest of their daughters. And they were willing to stand up and say so to girls, to other mothers, and perhaps most importantly, to men and boys too.
Through these kinds of programs in many parts of the world where child marriage is the norm – or has become so because of conflict and displacement – Save the Children works to empower girls and mothers to reduce the numbers of girls marrying before 18. Our latest analysis shows that 51 million girls will marry before 18 by 2030 given current trends. But we can change that story by engaging everyone in standing up and saying no to early marriage. Click here to learn more about how you can support our work for girls around the world and help moms like Adima and Fatima be heard.
Data Quality and Communication Officer
Save the Children in Indonesia
October 22, 2018
“Becoming a teacher is no longer merely a job. It has become a calling!” Solvi, a third grade teacher at an elementary school in Sumba, Indonesia, said enthusiastically in an interview with me.
Solvi is a passionate teacher who jumped right into her career after graduating with a teaching degree several years ago.
The commitment to dedicate one’s life to teaching children is not a desire that suddenly pops up. It takes many long years of focus and growth. When she graduated, the world of teaching, particularly to younger students, had been so intriguing and challenging. Who could miss the opportunity to work and play with children or to help them pursue their dreams? What a contribution to the future of this country a teacher could provide through this role. It was a mix of idealism and adrenaline the young teacher possessed as she entered the classroom her very first day.
Since then, she has learned that time can sap away your idealistic values and energy. Life may have not been as simple as expected. Solvi, a once passionate teacher felt she may have reached a breaking point, where she found herself reflecting on whether becoming a teacher was the right decision.
She found that most of her early grade students were still unable to read fluently or construct words, and that generally literacy skills were lacking for whole communities all around their island. Teachers tended to be impatient when students struggled to read, meeting their challenges with the traditional teaching methods that did not allow for flexibility in lessons to teach children at different reading levels. Without child-centered or fun activities incorporated into the classroom, younger children were bored and frustrated in class, and not interested in learning. Parents, either due to their own illiteracy or due to time spent out of the home trying to earn a living, were unable to support their children’s education outside of school.
After a few years dealing with these challenges, Solvi was close to giving up. She had changed from her formerly patient self, easily becoming angry with her students who were unable to understand the lessons. Likewise, her students felt awkward, uncomfortable and even scared in the classroom.
Then came an invitation for a series of trainings conducted by Save the Children for teachers of early grades. Solvi jumped at the opportunity to participate.
One specific training left a deep impression on her, on the topic of effective learning. She learned about how to realize and celebrate the different abilities of the children in her class. “We are taught that no child is stupid. They are all smart on their own. It depends on how we, as teachers, recognize their potentials and maximize [their abilities] for learning,” she said. Solvi and the other teachers learned different skills to use in the classroom setting, and how to deliver activities in fun and friendly ways for children.
Solvi then came back to her school with a fresh perspective, determined to improve herself in her role as teacher. The first thing she did was to provide additional tutoring in her home for students who could not construct words and read fluently. “Starting something new needs strong commitment and I am ready for this challenge for the sake of my students.” she said.
She had learned how to utilize the strategy of peer learning. Through this method, teachers pair students who are strong readers with those who are not. Using group or partner work in lessons not only helped make learning fun, but also benefited both struggling and strong readers with extra reading practice.
Within months, after applying the knowledge she learned from the trainings, her students’ performance began to improve. Before trying her new teaching methods, only 6 of Solvi’s 27 students could read fluently. By the second semester of utilizing the new methods, almost all her students could.
She had changed the way she approached her students. She learned how to understand and communicate with them based on their character. She set a good example with warm greetings and sweet words, to make her class somewhere all students felt welcome. She became much more patient and attentive to students with specific needs, building close relationships with each of them.
Anastasia, one of her students, told me that she was surprised by her teacher’s transformation. While before she would be scolded for failure in class, now Solvi treats her more patiently. “I am sure my Ibu [honorable local term for female teacher] loves me.” Anastasia shared. “How we miss her terribly every time she is away from school. We cannot wait as the morning approaches to see her,” she smiled.
Solvi reflected, “I am very grateful Save the Children implements their program in our school so I can be a part of it. With all the training, coaching and mentoring sessions, I have become a good teacher for my students. I now have come to realize that this is the role I am meant to be filling – playing, learning and having fun with children!”
Today, Solvi believes that if the teacher can create a comfortable learning environment, students can easily grasp and understand whatever lessons they learn. She told me, “When we teach with heart, we transform love and intelligence!”
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.
It was 13 years ago, in August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc along the U.S. Gulf Coast, leaving 1,833 people dead.
Thankfully, few children died as a result of Hurricane Katrina. But the storm has had a lasting, negative impact on tens of thousands of children who survived, only to suffer serious emotional and developmental consequences for years afterward.
More than 5,000 cases of missing children were reported after Katrina, many separated from their families for weeks, and some for months.4 Hundreds of thousands of children lost their homes and the communities where they grew up. Many lost loved ones and family pets. Countless children witnessed death while wading through or being rescued from rising waters. Thousands of children who were separated from their families and caregivers were rescued and placed in shelters in different cities and states. Many children spent days in unsanitary shelters with insufficient food and water, and where there were many accounts of violence and sexual assaults.5 6
In the days and months following Hurricane Katrina, Save the Children worked tirelessly to protect children from harm. We developed Journey of Hope, a program that helps children and the adults who care for them cope with loss, fear and stress. The evidence-based program also aims to help children become more resilient in the aftermath of a hurricane.
Until recently, Hurricane Katrina was recognized as the most destructive storm in U.S. history. However, with reports out of Florida describing the area as a “war zone,[i]” experts are concerned that Hurricane Michael, just 2 mph short of being classified as a Cat. 5 hurricane when it ripped into the panhandle[ii], will be even more devastating to some coastal communities.
Here’s why: Hurricane Michael’s path impacted some of Florida’s and Georgia’s poorest counties. Poorer families are often hurt hardest by storm’s fury and have more difficulty recovering. What’s more, these inland communities of Florida are less accustomed to dealing with powerful hurricanes.
We already know that 20 of 38 schools in Bay County, Florida have been damaged. “We’ve seen schools that are completely destroyed. Children will be out of school indefinitely,” said, Sarah Thompson, team leader on the ground.
While assessments are still underway, we anticipate a large number of day care, pre-K programs and schools in Hurricane Michael’s path have sustained extensive damage, rendering them uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. The future of thousands of young students remains largely unclear. Child care facilities are essential for getting communities back to normal routines and parents back to work. The loss of these services debilitates the entire community.[iii]
The potential for Hurricane Michael to have a widespread, deep and enduring impact on children’s mental health is great.
When forced to evacuate from their homes, many people – particularly the poor – have no choice but to turn to emergency shelters. Unfortunately, our national sheltering system doesn’t adequately account for the unique needs of children, making them vulnerable to injury and abuse.
Children are only sometimes counted separately from adults in shelter facilities, making it difficult to provide services that meet the specific needs of children and keep them safe. Shelters rarely keep families separated from the rest of the population, making kids vulnerable to abuse, violence and even rape.[iv]
Early reports are that conditions in shelters in and around Panama City are extremely poor. There is limited electricity and no running water, which means displaced children and families are unable to bathe, making an uncomfortable situation unsafe and more likely to spread illness. “These shelters are meant to be temporary, but families we met may be here for a very long time. We have to help make them better,” said Sarah Thompson.
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, Save the Children’s emergency response team is preparing to set up safe play spaces in shelters in the Panhandle’s hardest-hit areas – where children can play, learn and cope – and working to ensure shelter conditions are made safe and accommodating for families.
To learn more about Save the Children’s work to help Hurricane Michael survivors, please visit: savethechildren.org/hurricane-michael.
YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN NEED. MAKE A DONATION TODAY!
4 Still At Risk: U.S. Children 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina
The mental health needs of children following an emergency are immense. Stress caused as a result of lost homes and lost communities can have a widespread, deep and enduring impact on children’s mental well being.
As reports surface on the damage caused by Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 hurricane at the time it made landfall in Florida, Save the Children is actively working to protect vulnerable children and provide immediate support for families affected by the storm by distributing critical supplies. Our long-term response efforts will focus on providing much-needed emotional support to children as well.
Despite heightened vulnerability, children’s mental health needs are historically underrepresented in preparedness efforts in both public health and medical communities.[i]
Save the Children knows this is unacceptable.
Through the generous support of our donors, we are working to provide schools and communities with structured programs designed to support the emotional development of children following an emergency.
Here’s why it’s so important:
Children have unique needs that make them the most vulnerable in a disaster. From their small bodies being at greater risk of illness or harm during an emergency to their dependency on routine to help them make sense of their surroundings and feel comforted, children have the potential to suffer the most following an emergency.
The long-term negative impact of a disaster can be mitigated. With some basic training, parents, teachers and caregivers can help protect children from further harm following an emergency. Providing reassurance and validation of emotions while working to normalize routines and returning to learning can all work to reduce the mental harm caused to children.
However, many parents may not know how to address these needs. After Hurricane Katrina, key findings documented in American Medical Association’s Journal of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness found that while one-third of children were reported to have been diagnosed with at least one mental health problem, fewer than 50% of parents were able to access needed professional services. The major barriers that parents reported included not knowing where to go for help, lack of insurance coverage for treatment, no available providers and lack of transportation or child care for other children in the family. [ii]
Children’s well-being depends, in large part, on the stability and well-being of their parents and caregivers. Children understand and process events based on messages they receive from those responsible for them. Helping parents and caregivers to process their experiences and develop resources for coping is the first step in increasing their ability to support children. By attending first to their own emotional needs, parents and caregivers can be more fully present and attentive to the needs of children.
Children communicate stress differently. There is no one way in which children express worries and fears. Each one may communicate upset feelings in different ways. It’s important to recognize both the physical symptoms and behavioral changes that can mask trauma. Sleep disorders, irritability and acting out area also ways in which children may communicate stress.
A donation to Save the Children’s Hurricane Michael Children’s Relief Fund will help support the urgent needs of children and families. Please donate now.
To learn more about Save the Children’s work in Florida and across the United States, please visit: savethechildren.org/USA.
YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN NEED. MAKE A DONATION TODAY!
[ii] Abramson, D., Park, YS., Stehling-Ariza, T., and Redlener, I. “Children as Bellwethers of Recovery: Dysfunctional Systems and the Effects of Parents, Households, and Neighborhoods on Serious Emotional Disturbance in Children After Hurricane Katrina.” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. 4. (2010). pp. S17-S27.
9-year-old Sponsored Child
Save the Children Mexico
October 15, 2018
Hello everyone! My name is Edwin Antonio and I am 9 years old. I live in a beautiful and colorful little town called Chemax in Yucatan, Mexico. I like it because we have nice green areas where I can play with my friends. In the mornings, I go to elementary school. I am studying in fourth grade, and I am very excited, as soon I will be in fifth grade – just like a big boy!
My school is also very pretty, green like my favorite color. I love it because we have a courtyard where my classmates and I play every day after class, and sometimes we ride our bikes there. As it is very sunny and hot over here, we drink lots of water from the filter we got thanks to our friends from Save the Children. Clean and fresh water that we can enjoy at any moment – this is something we did not have before. We had water at the school, but without the filter, we drank directly from the tap, which had unclean water and made us sick.
I like it when our friends from Save the Children come to visit us and we do nice activities that helps us to learn and have fun at the same time. For example, we learn how to read and sing songs from our books, and play games that help us learn how to talk about our emotions using puppets and other toys. We always have a great time when they come and we look forward to their next visit. My teacher says they have earned our
whole school’s love and appreciation.
There are days when I feel even happier because I get letters from my friend from far away. My sponsor is a very good person. In her last letter, she told me that she is a lawyer and she has a kitten named Berry. I like her so much so I sent her a nice letter made all by myself with a lot of colors and a drawing, I’m sure she loves it.
Having a friend like her is incredible because, even though I don’t know her in person, I know she thinks of me and always helps me in the ways she can. I am sure she is also happy to have me as her friend.
Many kids like me have friends that send them letters at our school. We are very happy to know we can count on great and kind people like my sponsor and Save the Children.
Did you know you could communicate with your sponsored child by email? This not only helps us save on postage and get even more money to our programs that benefit children, but also will help you get a faster reply from your sponsored child! Consider sending an email today by visiting your online account, at Sponsor.SavetheChildren.org/MyAccount.
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.
Written by Carolyn Miles
Today, on International Day of the Girl, the world celebrates the many things a girl can be – a doctor, an artist, a judge. Lean in. Dream big. Those are the empowering messages we all tell the girls in our lives.
But despite remarkable progress in some quarters, gender inequality and disempowerment still persist and are a root cause of many barriers to sustainable development around the world. Discrimination against girls critically impacts children’s ability to survive, learn, and live a life free from violence.
Without a strong start in life, a girl’s future is likely to be determined for her. Gender inequality leaves entire regions behind: according to the United Nations, Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses US $95 billion per year due to gender inequality. As a universal human right and a means to overcoming poverty and discrimination, gender equality must remain at the center of our U.S. foreign policy and development assistance.
The journey of nations to meet their own development needs depends on breaking down the barriers to enhance powerful contributions of women and girls. To improve development outcomes everywhere, the U.S. government must invest in gender analysis to look at the differences between progress for girls and boys. Only then can we identify and work to transform the root causes of gender inequality, including addressing discriminatory social norms and institutions, as well as advocating for and fostering legislation and policies that promote gender equality.
Child marriage is a good example of a harmful practice that affects not only girls but whole societies. Around 1 in 5 women and girls in the world today were married as children – 1 in 3 of those were married before the age of 15. To a policymaker seeking to put an end to this, legal interventions may seem like the answer. But while they’re a key piece of the puzzle, new analysis by Save the Children shows that a startling 51 million child marriages could be averted by achieving universal secondary education for girls.1 This is what putting gender equality at the center of all areas of foreign policy and international assistance looks like: Reducing the harmful ways in which gender inequality combines with other factors to make it so much harder for girls to reach their potential.
The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) need robust funding and staffing to continue making critical investments in peace and security, economic development, education, nutrition, healthcare, and more. But if gender equality and women’s and girl’s empowerment aren’t at the center of all of these, the results just won’t be what we all want for children.
USAID has found that when 10 percent more girls go to school, a nation’s GDP increases, on average, by 3 percent. That’s something they wouldn’t have seen without a gender equality approach. Without sex- and age-disaggregated data, they wouldn’t even know that of the 25 million children currently out of primary school around the world, 15 million are girls.
Without gender analysis, they would overlook many of the reasons: boys’ education is often prioritized, girls face an increased risk of violence between home and school and from their teachers, and girls who marry before they reach adulthood almost always abandon their formal education.
Salam, pictured here with her young son Mesfin, was able to leave the abusive marriage she was forced to enter at age 13. Save the Children’s “Keep it Real Program” supported her return to school, where she rose to the top of her class.
But what about the other 134 million girls who will be married as children between 2018 and 2030 if the world doesn’t act? They too can become teachers, journalists, and entrepreneurs, but both research and experience tell us they’re more likely to become mothers, before their bodies are ready for it, or experience domestic violence. An investment in gender equality and girls’ empowerment yields tremendous results – not only in the individual lives of women and girls, but for the future we all share.
That’s why we at Save the Children have put gender equality at the top of our agenda. On this International Day of the Girl, tell the U.S. government to do the same.