Women have dominated the news for the last several months and will probably continue to do so as we find the courage to stand up for our rights. We are doctors, teachers, authors, scientists, CEOs, and senators. Yet, many girls in poor and developing countries have no access to education.
According to the Malala Fund, girl empowerment has several benefits for communities.
- Girls’ education strengthens economies and creates jobs.
- Educated girls are healthier citizens who raise healthier families.
- Communities are more stable and can recover faster from conflict with an educated female population.
- Investing in girls’ education is good for the planet. According to the Brookings Institute, one of the most effective strategies for curbing climate change is to slow population growth. The difference between a woman with no years of schooling and 12 years of schooling is 4 to 5 children per woman.
But your students are in the US. How do you reach kids across the globe?
Books! Share fiction and nonfiction stories from other countries with your students. Diversity includes not only color, but geography, language, and culture. Below I’ve listed four fiction and nonfiction pairings for your classroom libraries that focus specifically on girls’ education.
- Neema’s Reason to Smile by Patricia Newman, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
- Yasmin’s Hammer by Ann Malaspina, illustrated by Doug Chayka
- Nasreen’s Secret School written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
- Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education by Elizabeth Suneby, illustrated by Suana Verelst
- Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone in association with Girl Rising
- The Story Of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, illustrated by George Ford
- She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
- Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education by Raphaële Frier, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
After reading the above stories, engage students further with these two ideas:
- Launch a giving project that supports an overseas school for at-risk students. I’ve listed a few resources below to get you started:
- Reason2Smile – supports the children attending Jambo Jipya School in Mtwapa, Kenya. Borrow one of Reason2Smile’s curriculum trunks, which includes a variety of teaching tools to introduce and enhance students’ understanding of Kenyan life.
- Girl Rising – encourages US kids to host a fundraiser or event and get the community involved
- Malala Fund – students can follow Malala Yousafzai on her Girl Power Trip and start their own fundraiser
- Ask one of the organizations listed above if your students can establish a pen pal relationship with their students.
This is a guest post by Sibert Honor-winning author Patricia Newman. Learn more about Patricia Newman at patriciamnewman.com.