By Olivia Crescenzi, Regular ContributorOctober 7, 2015
On Tuesday September 29th, New York City’s Apollo Theater was lit up with the palpable roar of young women fighting for the 62 million girls without a right to education. I watched the live stream with baited breath as Charlize Theron, Cindi Leive, Julia Gillard, Nurfahada from Plan International USA, and the awe-inspiring First Lady, Michelle Obama, took the stage to lead the event. Even better? Our very own Sophia Bush, my personal idea of a girl empowerment goddess, was one of the day’s hosts and social media ambassadors. I’m sure that you already have an idea of how powerful the panel was just by reading the names listed above, so when I tell you I was inspired beyond words, you can believe it.
Having been given the absolute privilege of attending a small all-girls high school, I not only received a more-than-stellar education, but I never felt anything less than comforted and secure, knowing that my well-being and empowerment were of top priority. I was also surrounded by hundreds of inspiring girls who valued their education as much as I did, as well as teachers and administrators who reminded us of our vital place in society everyday. Thus, the importance of girls’ education has never been a doubt in my mind.
We can do anything we put our minds to; all that’s missing sometimes is a little self-belief.
For 62 million girls around the world, however, going to school seems impossible, a notion found only beyond their wildest dreams. Most of you reading this are like me, raised in the first world and probably having expressed deep, passionate hatred for school more than, say, a hundred times. Of course, it’s easy for us to complain about how stressed we are everyday and how the mounds of studying we have feel debilitating sometimes, because we’ve never known anything less than privilege. I know I’m guilty. Very guilty, in fact. Yet, think of the millions upon millions of girls out there who dream of one day attending class, holding a pencil and notebook that belongs to them; not to their older brothers, not to their younger brothers, but to them. Just the possession of a pencil is something we take for granted every single day, and we don’t even know it.
What I hope becomes obvious to you after reading this, is that we have a responsibility. A duty to raise our voices in unison, so that 62 million girls will one day be able to as well.
image via digitallearning.eletsonline.com
The power and magic that is the voice of a girl who believes she deserves to be heard, and is given a platform on which to yell out, is unparalleled. If you ask me, that is the most valuable lesson that every young woman in school needs to learn. We, as a culture of girls, matter simply because we exist. We should feel nothing less than empowered by the knowledge that the sexiest, and most long-lasting beauty, is our intellect. No matter the career path we choose, we have a vital, necessary role to play in society.
So, the next time that you are studying and feel like crying out in stress, just take a moment to relax, breathe, and think about our 62 million sisters across the globe who are counting on you to take full advantage of the education you are being given. They need you to help them, and their daughters, live out their full potential as well. To borrow a few words from the First Lady herself, “Don’t ever underestimate the power of your voice.” If we are going to truly change the future of girl culture and of our world, we need you, in all that you are. So today, scream out as loud as you can and vow to start using and believing in the magic that is your voice. We want to hear it, and our 62 million sisters out there need it more than ever.
How can you use your voice to help yourself and other girls? How can you use your education to its fullest potential? Tell us below!
I am a twenty-year-old Microbiology & Immunology student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. On the (more often than not) moments that I’m caught procrastinating my studying, I’m just your regular teenager (yes, still) that values friends, family and dramatic reality TV more than anyone. I would say that I am a collaborator, an empathizer, and pretty middle ground between an idealist and a realist. Most importantly and above all, however, I’m obsessed with our culture as young girls and women, and I want nothing more than to delve deep into this important discussion with you.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.