World Pulse

The Global Girl Tipping Point

Jensine Larsen
Posted July 12, 2013 from United States

Behind the statistics, girls worldwide are using digital media to speak their minds and bare their souls. The force of their voices are staggering—the reality of their untapped potential for global leadership impossible to ignore.

When I was a girl I was shy and spent a great deal of time alone. I would lie behind our family’s old barn on a patch of land in the countryside straining to feel the earth spinning on its axis underneath me.

Little could I have imagined that a day was coming when girls like me would stop being invisible and the world would begin to revolve around us.

Today the development sector is abuzz with the power of girls. Girl leaders representing some 600 million girls globally are increasingly stepping into their power, claiming their voices, using new technologies, and driving a cascade of change geared to lift up their sisters. They are pushing for a paradigm shift and giving input into global agendas: In June, twenty-one girls gathered to advise leaders at the G20 Summit on issues most important to them.

Even language is changing: world leaders and funders are starting to say "girls and women" instead of "women and girls." New research and data is "making the case" that educated girls and women invest in their families and communities, improving health outcomes, delaying marriage, and decreasing early pregnancies. The theory of the "Girl Effect" is now gospel.

Sadly, it is still rare to hear girls speaking for themselves. And it is still rare to hear girls’ visions for change in their own words.

Yet girls worldwide ARE using digital media to speak their minds and bare their souls; it is time for us to listen to them. Recently, World Pulse crowd-sourced testimonies and solutions from girls and women from more than 60 countries. We listened deeply to their lived experiences as girls and their visions for expanding access to education as part of our Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

We quickly discovered that the combined force of girls’ voices is staggering—the reality of their untapped potential for global leadership impossible to ignore. They are living proof of the ripple effect of access to education and technology.

I think of Sangita from Nepal who describes her drive to write on behalf of girls as ghosts of those who have not been heard calling her to use the internet to speak out.

"It is as if hundreds of poltergeists are within me, to remind me that I have responsibilities, obligations,” she writes. “These groan in each educated individual’s soul, for we must not remain silent. This deafening silence is an injustice to those millions of girls who don’t and perhaps will never enjoy the precious right to education and emancipation."

I think of Nakinti of Cameroon, whose younger sisters delayed their own education in favor of working on the farm so that Nakinti and her older sisters could benefit from schooling. The older sisters, once successful, turned around to work on the farm to support the education of their younger sisters. Now she gives back to more girls.

"Whenever I go to the village, I move from home to home to find out how their girl children are faring in school," Nakinti says. "I talk to parents on the importance of girl child education. Many parents say they don’t need to be told any more, they say they admire the huge success that females of my family have achieved, and so their daughters must become like girls in my family."

Or Pelamutunzi in Zimbabwe whose traumatizing experience menstruating in school led her to build a vision to roll out a program to distribute sanitary wear to needy children in rural areas whilst building awareness among communities about educating girls.

"It is time to help girls be a lifeline for each other, for girls to rise up and swim in the pool of unity," she says.

Now, technology is speeding up the pace of change, making it so that more girls than ever can rise up. They are accessing online education; reading mobile content; and breaking through isolation via supportive online communities like World Pulse. Their ability to "pay it forward" is multiplying, reaching a tipping point, and generating a wave that can reach into the communities of the most silenced and illiterate girls. Girls will be the ones pioneering new ways to deliver education to grow armies of girl leaders in every city and village.

There is a long way to go before every society puts girls at the center. However, with the power of technologies and the raw, outspoken determination of girls, I can feel under my feet the earth’s axis spinning towards that day a little faster. The global girl tipping point is within earshot.

Connect with Jensine


ABOUT THIS STORY

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign. This campaign showcases solutions and unites grassroots voices speaking out for the rights of girls worldwide.

Comments 9

Log in or register to post comments
Merlin James
Jul 12, 2013
Jul 12, 2013

"Yes, there is a long way" - but this journey is going to be fruitful with lot of louder voices raising on the way and its no more going to be long.

Each word is encouraging me to do my role effectively as a woman, no matter how small it may be or educating one girl at a time or bringing light into the life of a single soul.

Love and Hope

pelamutunzi
Jul 15, 2013
Jul 15, 2013

i agree with you that the day when girls will be heard soon because of their determination. the world is truly changing as the realisation that girls can become leaders who promote the trickle down effect increases. it is time to listen to girls and time to empower them with the new technologies to find their voices. girls and women in zimbabwe refuse to be silent and will not be silenced anymore and as we face another round of elections we have seen many women candidates showing that women are not taking a back seat but are driving and driving for change. change begins with us and we have embraced the journey and the destination draws closer everyday. thank you for the platform and for bringing these issues to the fore

Sangita Thapa
Jul 15, 2013
Jul 15, 2013

Dear Jensine, we all are the united power, the voice that wont be deterred by anything in this world. Whether its Malala fighting fearlessly for girls' education or the Worldpulsarian women like us advocating and speaking for the rights of women and their empowerment, it is never going to stop. I can see the revolutionary change already! Lets keep up our determination and faith dear sisters.

Nakinti
Jul 15, 2013
Jul 15, 2013

Oh Jensine, You made me think of the situation again and cry...my younger sister, who was part of the farming, now a University graduate joined me in the tears shedding just now [we just embraced each other in happiness]. Never mind, they are tears of joy...we are happy that we fought for each other. We will never stop fighting for other girls, girls must stand up and 'become their own heros' as my editorial mentor, Orion Lumiere, puts it. Thank you Jensine for giving us this platform to share our stories. I pray for every girl child, every day. For girls all over the world, I say: "Better is not good enough, the best is yet to come." Love. Nakinti

Precious Nkeih
Jul 15, 2013
Jul 15, 2013

The world now revolves around girls. What an interesting shift.With more access to education and technology, more girls will speak up.

I particularly enjoyed this part: "New research and data is "making the case" that educated girls and women invest in their families and communities, improving health outcomes, delaying marriage, and decreasing early pregnancies. The theory of the "Girl Effect" is now gospel."

Jensine, your writing inspires me. You are such a model!

Regards, Precious

Yvette Warren
Jul 17, 2013
Jul 17, 2013

Yay!

Chinyere Okoh
Jul 27, 2013
Jul 27, 2013

It's amazing how things have changed extraordinarily in the face of education and technology. I wish i had a voice to shout out. I will endeavour to be tge voice of the voiceless.

Phinnie
Aug 16, 2013
Aug 16, 2013

Jensine--

I haven't connected with World Pulse for a while and then came across your hopeful message about girls and women tonight...Technology is indeed powerful--sometimes for good and sometimes not...I think about all the girls and women who struggle to feed their families, have safe drinking water, and to be able to go to school...

However, as an addictions counselor in the United States, it saddens me to see women and girls who feel the need to numb their emotions and escape into addiction...Others become severely depressed and even suicidal...Young women with eating disorders are starving themselves and have distorted body images...A co-worker's daughter has experienced cyber-bullying for identifying as gay. In our treatment program, some make it and some don't. The ones who really embrace a new life challenge their beliefs that contribute to low self-esteem and self-confidence. For some, the transformation occurs in 12 step meetings, for others it is when they begin volunteering and experience the "high" of giving of themselves, for others it is in treatment groups when they begin to challenge their negative thoughts and discover they are not alone...

The longer I do this work the more I ask myself what changes need to happen in our culture and education systems to help to prevent these problems in the first place...How to raise more youth with intact self-esteem and positive goals and values with a global perspective?

Amanda Houck
Sep 02, 2013
Sep 02, 2013

Jensine,

You wrote:

"Whenever I go to the village, I move from home to home to find out how their girl children are faring in school," Nakinti says. "I talk to parents on the importance of girl child education. Many parents say they don’t need to be told any more, they say they admire the huge success that females of my family have achieved, and so their daughters must become like girls in my family."

Just look at the impact you are having on the world. You are an inspiration to me.

With love, Amandahttp://defineyourspirit.com